New Year's Honours: RAF Regiment Heritage Centre volunteer awarded British Empire Medal
PUBLISHED: 22:35 28 December 2018
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Bill Espie has been awarded a British Empire Medal for services to the RAF Regiment Association and his role overseeing the RAF Regiment Heritage Centre at RAF Honington.
Mr Espie, 72, who lives at Market Place, Botesdale, near Diss, said he was “very surprised and proud” to receive the medal in the New Year Honours.
Having joined the RAF in the 1960s, he undertook operational tours in Saudi Arabia, The Gulf and in Malaya and was deployed to Northern Ireland for a number of tours.
“I was privileged to soldier there at every rank before commissioning and “walk the walk” with comrades who were my friends and still are 46 years later,” he said.
After leaving the RAF in 1989 he became closely involved in the RAF Regiment Association, holding roles including national secretary and vice chairman from when it was first formed in 1990.
Mr Espie is also a volunteer curator at RAF Regiment Heritage Centre at RAF Honington. The centre houses memorabilia spanning the 75 year history of the RAF Regiment, which moved from Catterick in North Yorkshire to RAF Honington in Suffolk in 1994.
Mr Espie will be presented with a British Empire Medal by the Lord-Lieutenant later in 2019.
He said: “To a certain extent this is not just for me. It is for the two teams that are involved, the RAF Regiment Association management team and the RAF Regiment Heritage Volunteer Team.
“You can’t do a great deal on your own and if you want to put together and refurbish a museum you have got to have a lot of interested people. I was lucky in having a huge amount of interest and a lot of guy’s willing to give up an awful lot of time to do it.
“We have changed it round completely in five years, so it is very rewarding to have peer recognition of what you have done with the help of the lads in both organisations.”
Mr Espie celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary shortly before Christmas with wife Eileen. The couple have a daughter Isabella, senior lecturer in fine art at the University of Lincoln.
They will be invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace. He said: “That’s really thrown me. Garden parties are hardly my forte!”