British Empire Medal awarded to Milton Keynes woman for helping hundreds of bereaved people

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A Milton Keynes grandmother, who moved to the area as a little girl, has been awarded the prestigious British Empire Medal for her selfless and tireless work in helping people cope with bereavement.

Jean Huggan, 70, moved to the Fenny Stratford area when she was just four years old, with her family, and was among the first Londoners to relocate to the area.

Jean was kept busy right from the start of her working life, at the centre of the development of Milton Keynes, working for both the Milton Keynes Development Corporation and then later the Commission for New Towns.

However, despite her busy career, she found the time to train and work as a volunteer counsellor to support hundreds of individuals and families, who were at their most vulnerable after suffering bereavement.

On retirement she increased her support for the local Bereavement Service, training new volunteers and being an active fundraiser for the charity.

And last night (27 April) the Lord-Lieutenant for Buckinghamshire, Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher, thanked Jean for her tireless hard work as he awarded her the British Empire Medal, in a packed ceremony at the council’s Civic Offices in CMK.

Sir Henry said: “Jean won this award not just for the difference she has made directly to the lives of hundreds of people suffering from bereavement but for training other volunteers to act as counsellors who in turn have supported even more people finding themselves in a similar situation.”

The Chamber was packed with friends, colleagues and well-wishers and as well as Sir Henry, local dignitaries included the Mayor and Mayoress of Milton Keynes.

Jean has also been an active supporter of the Milton Keynes Bereaved Parents Group since it was set up seven years ago by Ursula and Nancy, two Paediatric Community Sisters in 2000.

The group meets monthly and, through the generosity of the Duchess of Bedford, had a special piece of land set aside at Woburn Abbey where the parents plant snowdrops in memory of the children.

Jean is always on hand to offer one-to-one support to any parent or parents who come to the meetings and wish to discuss something in private or just feel they can’t face a large group of strangers.

And she also gives her time and skills to Harry’s Rainbow, the charity set up to support children and young people and their families who have been bereaved through the loss of a significant loved one such as a parent or sibling.

She has two children, a daughter Karen and a son Nigel and three step children Andrew, Caroline and Catherine.

Jean and her husband Jim have eight grandchildren between them, seven of whom live in Milton Keynes.