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Sunderland Boxing Day Dip organiser given Royal honour

James Cleghorn and his wife Lillian after receiving his British Empire Medal from the Lord Lieutenant Nigel Sherlock (left) at Sundeland Civic Centre.

James Cleghorn and his wife Lillian after receiving his British Empire Medal from the Lord Lieutenant Nigel Sherlock (left) at Sundeland Civic Centre.

TIRELESS fund-raiser James Cleghorn has received a Royal accolade for his decades of fund-raising.

The retired engineer, 80, from High Barnes, was presented with the British Empire Medal for his outstanding service to the community, after being named in the New Year’s Honours List.

Along with wife Lillian, who he described as “his rock”, James –known as Jim – received the medal at the Mayor of Sunderland’s parlour, from Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear, Nigel Sherlock.

His charity work includes founding the popular Boxing Day Dip at Seaburn and helping to set up the Grace House Hospice Appeal.

The modest charity champ, who is originally from Hendon, said: “I never expected anything like this.

“Whatever we have done, I have enjoyed it and getting a medal for something you enjoy is amazing.”

James’s fund-raising drive began when Sister Scholastica from the Sisters of Mercy approached him for help.

Since then, he has raised funds for the Variety Club, Sunderland Lions and Sunningdale School with helps children with severe learning difficulties.

He thanked the people of Sunderland for their generosity, and also his wife of 58 years.

“Like anything else, you need someone who is alongside you and beside you and who holds you up. I call Lillian my Gibraltar.”

Sunderland Mayor Bob Heron told him: “I would like to thank you for the difference you have made to so many people’s lives, in Sunderland and beyond.

“Jim, you thoroughly deserve this honour.

“I’d like to thank Jim for asking us to present this award today.

“It has been an absolute honour for me and wife Juliana.It has been absolutely phenomenal. The work that both of them get through is just unbelievable.

“It is tremendous what they do.”

Mr Sherlock, also praised James for his unflagging efforts.

“It is a huge privilege to be asked on the Queen’s behalf to present the British Empire Medal to one who has been serving the community for 50 years.”

Family and friends of Mr Cleghorn enjoyed afternoon tea after the presentation, followed by a tour of the Mayor’s parlour.

 

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