Thursday, 18 August 2022

Ex-regatta chairman made CBE in New Year honours

TWO people from Henley have been recognised in the New Year’s Honours.

TWO people from Henley have been recognised in the New Year’s Honours.

Mike Sweeney, the former chairman of Henley Royal Regatta, has been made a CBE for services to rowing.

Michael Mogridge was awarded the British Empire Medal for his work supporting armed forces personnel and their families.

Mr Sweeney, 70, who retired last month after 22 years running the regatta, said: “I am overwhelmed and delighted.

“I never expected it because it is not what I was there for — I was there for rowing and the people of rowing but it is nice to get recognition. It was a huge surprise and a very welcome one.”

Mr Sweeney, a former civil engineer who lives in Henley with his wife Tina and has two children and four grandchildren, said he would be celebrating his honour with a bottle of champagne with his family.

He received a letter from the Cabinet Office a month ago asking if he would accept the honour.

Mr Sweeney said: “I can only presume that everything in my career has been taken into consideration. I became chairman of the British selection board when I was 28 and then team manager.

“I spent a decade or so turning British rowing round and getting it moving in the right direction and then Henley came along.

“I have gained an enormous amount of satisfaction from everything I have achieved in British rowing and at Henley.”

Mr Sweeney, who has been made president of the regatta since his retirement, won four medals at the event as a rower.

He also took part in the Boat Race twice and represented Great Britain at the European and world championships.

He changed the face and fortunes of British Rowing as chairman of the selection board in the Seventies and spent 14 years as chairman of World Rowing’s events commission.

He was elected to the royal regatta’s committee of management in 1979 and was its longest-serving member.

He was first elected as chairman in 1993 and was only the 10th chairman since the committee was formed in 1881.

He was elected a steward of the royal regatta in 1974 and was an umpire from 1979 to 2009.

Mr Sweeney was succeeded as chairman by Sir Steve Redgrave, the five-times Olympic rowing gold medallist.

Mr Mogridge, 80, of Makins Road, Henley, became a volunteer for the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Families Association after retiring in 2001 and is now secretary of its Oxfordshire branch.

He helps servicemen and women who are struggling financially or suffering from personal or emotional problems.

Mr Mogridge and his colleagues give information and advice or put people in touch with organisations that can help them further. He lives with his wife Rhona and the couple have two children, Fiona, 43, who lives in Charvil, and Fraser, 41, a lieutenant colonel in the army who has served in Afghanistan.

Mr Mogridge, a former Henley Golf Club captain, grew up in Peckham and joined the Royal Fusiliers at age 18 as part of his National Service.

He fought in the closing months of the Korean War in 1953 and was later posted to Hong Kong, Egypt and Sudan.

After being demobilised, he took a qualification in marketing and became marketing director for a paint company in London.

He served as managing director for a number of firms before becoming a freelance consultant at the age of 60.

He moved to Stoke Row in the early Seventies and met his wife at Marlow Rugby Club shortly afterwards. The pair married in Essex and moved to Henley in the early Nineties.

Mr Mogridge decided to devote his time to SSAFA when he retired.

In 2002 he walked 78 miles across the Namibian desert in five days, raising £3,400 for the charity.

He said: “It seemed a perfect fit as I know the hardship which services personnel and their families have to endure and which makes them special people.

“When I think of the thousands of wonderful people who are unpaid volunteers I am humbled that I should receive this honour. They all deserve it as much as I do.

“I thank those who were kind enough to put my name forward. I was surprised and very flattered when I received the letter.

“I emailed my daughter to tell her and my son-in-law phoned back to say she’s crying, so I think my family are very proud.”

David Etheridge, Oxfordshire’s chief fire officer, was awarded an OBE.

Mr Etheridge, 48, joined the country’s fire and rescue service as a retained firefighter in 1986.

He has led the service since June 2010, having held a number of positions including station manager at Slade Park fire station in Oxford and as the city’s fire risk manager.

Mr Etheridge, who is married to Rachel and has two children, Karl, 25, and Lewis, 20, said: “Receiving the OBE is one of the proudest moments of my life.

“I never dreamt when I joined that one day I would become chief fire officer of this fantastic fire and rescue service and this really is the icing on the cake.”

In 2006 he launched 365alive, an educational programme which set out to save taxpayers £100 million, deliver 840,000 safety messages and ensure 365 more people were alive through proactive risk reduction and educational work that focuses on preventing road accidents and house fires. The targets were all reached this year, two years ahead of schedule.

Mr Etheridge, who lives in Abingdon, said: “Through our prevention and risk reduction activities, we have been focused over the past decade to ensure that Oxfordshire has become a safer place for people to live, work and travel.

“I have strived to lead and integrate Oxfordshire fire and rescue service into every corner of society so that each day we can make a positive difference to those we are here to serve.”

Katherine Powley, Oxfordshire County Council’s county network co-ordinator, has been made an MBE. íMiss Powley, 52, oversees the teams responsible for managing events and the co-ordination of works that affect the road network in Oxfordshire.

She has devoted her life to public service, having sat on a number of boards of school governors. She is a member of the board of directors of seven Oxfordshire academies.

Miss Powley, who also lives in Abingdon, said: “It is a real honour to be made an MBE and I am very proud.

“My parents, who both were teachers, brought me up on the idea of providing a service to the community and it is something that I am extremely passionate about.

“I love the variety of my job, whether it is mapping for the Olympic torch route or responding to an unexpected road closure. Loke the rest of my team, I strive to go that extra mile in order to get things done.”

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