Rossendale Free Press
Harriers hero is given New Year gong
A 92-YEAR-OLD charity stalwart has been recognised in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list with a British Empire Medal (BEM).
Arnold Wilson Ashworth, from Whitworth, has been a volunteer fundraiser for Cancer Research UK for the past 50 years.
He, and his late wife, Joyce, 88, were founding members of Whitworth Amateur Dramatics, and Arnold has also been Captain, President and a Life Member of Lobden Golf Club, and a loyal parishioner of St Bartholomew’s Church, since the couple moved to the village when they married in 1951.
The couple had two children, David and Kay.
Arnold said he wasn’t a member of the committee when he began volunteering for the charity, but supported it because Joyce was the treasure, a role she held until shortly before her death three years ago.
“We were married for 66 years and she died a week after our anniversary,” he said.
“We had a good life - we did everything together - we worked for Cancer Research together and and were both founding members of Whitworth Amateur Dramatics.”
Arnold, of George Street, added that the support of the community and his work has helped him with the loss of his wife.
He continued: “I was chairman at the dramatics society for 30 years and I’ve been a member of the local golf club since 1954 - I’ve been very involved in the community since I got married.
“I do a lot of organising for the Cancer Research in Whitworth.”
The committee had a packed programme in 2020, with a target of raising £15,000 for the charity. This included an evening meal at the Rose and Bull, a teddy bear’s picnic, a golf tournament, ladies afternoon tea, and an annual Christmas carol concert, all of which had to be cancelled.
But despite the pandemic, the committee still raised £7,000.
Arnold said: “For a little place like Whitworth - to raise that sort of money without any events is because of our name that we have now.
“People know what we do with our fundraising. All of that is because of what we have done in the past 50 years.”
Despite his commitment to charity work, Arnold was “shocked” to receive the BEM.
He said: “I was stuck for words - a fellow from the Cabinet Office just rang me and asked for my email to send me some documents. I had no idea - it was a surprise.
“I’m just sad that my wife isn’t here to celebrate. Everything we did, we did together, all our life.
“It was a perfect marriage - but life goes on. The associations I have have helped me tremendously.
“I want to offer my thanks to all the people of Whitworth for their support over the last 50 years.
“It’s nice to receive the honour but without the support there’s no way I would have got it. Lobden Gold Club have been responsible for nearly a quarter of the money raised. It’s been incredible.”
A proud dad has been recognised in the New Year’s Honours for his ‘lifeline’ contribution during the pandemic.
Arnold was one of two Whitworth men to be honoured by the Queen, after Data Technologist
Ricky Sercombe collected an MBE in recognition of his contribution towards the delivery of ‘lifeline’ food boxes to the vulnerable during the pandemic, as we reported in last week’s Free Press.