Milton Keynes quartet recognised in Queen's birthday Honour List

This couple and another project leader from the borough were included in this year's Honour List.

Friday, 11th June 2021, 10:30 pm
Updated Monday, 14th June 2021, 11:31 am

Wolverton couple Shaaron and Andrew Forbes, and Naomi Brock and Valerie Anne Wells from Olney have been recognised in this year's Queen's birthday Honours List.

All four will receive the British Empire Medal for their work within the local community running projects helping those in need.

Shaaron and Andrew are joint managers of Kings Community Centre (KCC), helping those dealing with food poverty and isolation by providing them with free meals.

Naomi Brock
Naomi Brock

They set up the charity in 2014, to help vulnerable people in Wolverton. In 2018 they supplied 5,000 meals to those in need.

Such is the prominence of the charity, Tescos provided food, a tree and presents for the KCC Christmas event. With the help of volunteers, the couple coordinated the delivery of 100 free lunches.

Shaaron set up Baby Basics MK to support young parents with supplies and advice. The scheme helped 60 young women and five years later had 900 referrals.

The start-up is now a charity in its own right, sponsored by King’s Church, recycling baby essentials across Milton Keynes

They both trained to provide advice on Universal Credit, to assist people with finding employment. They recognised the need to provide basic skills in IT for those looking to get back into work and successfully obtained a grant to provide IT equipment to enable local residents to improve their skills.

The pair are senior pastors at Kings Church in Wolverton. During the pandemic they decided to up their food bank services offering food daily, rather than weekly. They also complete food deliveries to vulnerable people who needed to shield away from the virus.

Andrew is credited with leading the project to turn a Grade II listed, but neglected building at the centre of Wolverton in Milton Keynes, into the current hub for the KCC.

A government spokesperson also highlighted the work done by these pastors to bring the multicultural town of Wolverton together. Andrew represented faith groups to dissolve tensions regarding parking issues at the local mosque.

The Forbes' are spokespeople for faith groups on key housing developments, homeless co-ordinations with local councils, community groups and the police. They run open breakfast and lunch clubs in attempts to further unify their local community.

Further credit was given to Andrew for his close relationship with the Thames Valley Police, he offers ideas and support to tackle issues such as anti-social behaviour.

The work this family did in the pandemic is best exemplified with their post-Covid statistics when it comes to providing food. Despite having to furlough staff, the pair exceeded the whole total of food delivered by KCC in 2019 by 400%, just 15 weeks into the pandemic.

Naomi runs the Olney is Kind community project (OiK). The project helps people in Olney and other nearby Milton Keynes villages to provide a range of support to those in need.

She manages the project's Facebook page, monitoring the donations volunteers bring in which can be provided to OiK's foodbank.

She doesn’t set criteria for who can use the service and maintains complete confidentiality, to encourage people who may be too ashamed to reach out. Through OiK, she also raises immediate support for families and individuals who have found themselves in emergency accommodation due to abusive relationships, house fires and rehoming through traumatic circumstances.

It mobilises the local community to donate what is needed to get these families the tools and comforts they need to lessen the trauma of their immediate situation.

She supports elderly and vulnerable residents, including running a weekly lunch club for local pensioners, working to support the residents in Clifton Court and other vulnerable residents in Olney and surrounding villages, and arranging birthday parties for the elderly who are cut off from families.

In addition to OiK, she co-founded Olney Covid-19 Support group, an initiative that was put into action by four residents of Olney in order to respond and anticipate the problems that would arise from the pandemic. This group created a network of volunteers to support anyone isolating or cut off from support due to the coronavirus.

This work involved setting up Facebook pages, volunteer systems, shopping and support rotas, lists of isolators, phone support and keeping a close eye on people who might run out of money or find themselves in difficult circumstances in their homes.

She is a foster mother, both long term and emergency, she takes the time to get to know them and work with them as does her husband and their children with her guidance and support.

Valerie from Olney was given the medal for her work serving her local community.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to recognise Anne Valerie Well's BEM. She was not included in the initial list of Milton Keynes residents who were honoured by the Queen which the MK Citizen received, as she did not wish to be contacted by the media.