Founder of Milton Keynes based UK Astronomy Charity wins major award

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Ross Hockham presented with the British Citizens Award Medal of Honour

The founder of the Milton Keynes based UK Astronomy Charity has won a major award.

Ross Hockham was presented with the British Citizens Award Medal of Honour by Dame Mary Perkins, founder of Specsavers and BCA Patron.

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Ross set up the charity in 2014 and since then interest has grown rapidly. He is now running events across the UK, working alongside the National Trust, schools, stately homes, care homes and local community interest groups. During the pandemic, the online membership grew from 6,000 to 20,000 members.

TV presenter Tim Vincent, left, is pictured with Ross Hockham  and Dame Mary Perkins)TV presenter Tim Vincent, left, is pictured with Ross Hockham  and Dame Mary Perkins)
TV presenter Tim Vincent, left, is pictured with Ross Hockham and Dame Mary Perkins)

All of Ross’s spare time is spent checking night sky guides and creating activity sheets for kids, recording podcasts and running the monthly photo competition. He feels astronomy has no barriers and is a great way of bringing people together from all races, genders and ages.

Ross said: “I was truly humbled to have been nominated and chosen to receive a British Citizens Award, something I didn’t even know about until I received an email a couple of months ago. My wife and friend Nick Whitton had nominated me secretly. None of this would have been possible without all those that have supported, believed and volunteered for UK Astronomy. It’s because of them that we have made a difference not only our local communities but hopefully across the UK.

The British Citizen Award, in partnership with One Stop, is now in its sixth year and recognises exceptional individuals who positively impact their communities throughout the country.

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Ross added: “It was a fantastic day although slightly nerve-racking but Tim Vincent was a great host and put you at ease. It was really nice that the event was about the people there, I loved the theme tunes added to each winner as they walked up to get their awards and the bus tour was extra special learning especially learning about the history of London. It was a true honour receiving this award and you helped make me realise that what we do has and will help others in the future.

Despite being a full-time London firefighter, Ross also dedicates his time to helping others in the community. During days off he works at the local school, helping disadvantaged children, mentoring them to ensure that they get the best from their education. He hosts sessions for local care homes, helping those with dementia and supports local charities by using astronomy as a way to draw people to their events.

Jonny Mcquarrie, from BCA partner One Stop, said: “Each time a new group of medalists are selected it reminds us of how great the people of this nation are. We serve many communities up and down the country through the One Stop convenience stores, and these particular individuals being recognised now, especially at this time of extraordinary circumstance, reflects all that is good about community spirit. It’s a privilege to play a small part in helping them to be recognised.”

Each Medal of Honour bears the words ‘For the Good of the Country’ and are presented to only a small number of exceptional individuals twice yearly. The British Citizen Award is widely viewed as the nation’s way of recognising extraordinary, everyday people for exceptional endeavor and are truly representative of today’s multicultural Britain.