A much respected Henfield man has been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
David Sayers, 85, has been recognised for his 65 years of service to the Henfield Evangelical Free Church.
He has been church secretary and deacon of the church for 55 years, as well as leading the carol service and Easter services each year for the self-help groups in the village.
Speaking after hearing about the award, David said: “I actually felt quite humiliated when I first found out about it.
“I thought ‘this must be a scam’ but when I realised it wasn’t I thought it was a great honour.
“When you do all this work and help out, you don’t think about the rewards or recognition you will get for it. You just do it to help out.
“I have lived in Henfield for all 85 years of my life and thoroughly enjoyed helping out.”
David plays the organ every Sunday in church and used to play the organ at another rural village, Poynings, so that the church was able to function.
Since 1990, he has helped to run the coffee shop at Henfield Free Church as well as the bookshop and the youth groups.
David added: “I have always loved helping out the youth in this village. We have some great children here.
“When I finished my national service, the organist at the church had been here for 55 years and only missed one service in all that time.
“I took over, aged 22 or 23, meaning I have been an organist for 63 years now.
“I still play the occasional wrong note but that all comes down to practice I guess. But due to holidays, I have missed the occasional service. I have been an organist for longer but I’ve certainly missed more.
“I also still help out at the coffee shop now. I was actually just down there this morning.
“It’s not just me, there are a few of us who help run it smoothly.”
David has also, for more than 60 years, organised a children’s group providing social religions and moral guidance to children from the marginalised families living on the village council estates.
He facilitates the bible study groups as well as being a weekly home group leader and helps out within the life of the church.
David plays the piano and leads religious services in care homes.
As a respected member of the village, he has had a plaque put on a park bench in appreciation of his membership of Henfield Free Church.
David said: “I have enjoyed working in the village and now I know so many people.”