AN amazing Eastbourne volunteer has today been honoured by the Queen.

Eastbourne Access Group’s immediate past chair Ian Westgate has been awarded an MBE in the Queens Honours List.

Ian has a 50 year track record of volunteering through scouting, youth club leadership, Rotaract, MS Society and more recently with the Eastbourne Access Group where he was chair for 15 years.

He said: “I feel deeply humbled that my friends have thought me worthy of such reward.

“Over the years I have volunteered in many ways thoughI never really knew if my time and effort was appreciated.

“This award is the best confirmation imaginable and I am so deeply touched that I am considered worthy, however I acknowledge what has been achieved with the Access Group is a team effort.”

ian says he is most proud of:

  1. Starting the MS exercise group at the DGH with Senior Neuro-Physiotherapist, Debbie Soave MBE with a Lottery Grant in 2003 that is still running, (sadly suspended because of Covid-19), now supported by the local MS branch.
  2. Local recognition of the Access Group as a voice for disabled people and campaigning on their behalf.
  3. The introduction of the handy A5 Eastbourne Guide for Disabled People and Access Group website.

Ian said: “Throughout my life I have benefitted from the help and support of others especially since being diagnosed with MS and it is my appreciation of this that drives me.

“I have benefited from the selflessness of others and it would be wrong of me to accept this without returning something to the community.

“Most people appreciate the word “Thank you” and I am no exception, but my true reward is the knowledge that I have in some small way been able to help others.

“Volunteering has been a significant element of my life for as long as I can remember, and I cannot imagine life without it. I met my wife through volunteering in Rotaract 40 years ago … that is a reward in itself!”