A COMMITTED scout leader and fundraiser for Holy Trinity Church in Bradford on Avon has been awarded a British Empire Medal in the New Year Honours.

Former Ministry of Defence employee John Cox, 72, has received the honour for his services to the West Wiltshire scout movement and for his community fundraising efforts for the town’s Holy Trinity Church.

Mr Cox, of Deverell Close, Bradford on Avon, was nominated in April 2016 for more than 30 years’ service to his local community, including more than ten years with Holy Trinity Church.

He said: “I am absolutely delighted. It was a complete surprise. Whatever I have achieved has been done with the help of others. I can think of a lot of people who have done as much, if not more, than me.”

Mr Cox, who was born in London, moved to Bradford on Avon with his wife, Beryl, in 1979. He worked for the MoD in London, Bristol and Bath before taking early retirement at the age of 59.

The couple have two children, Sarah and Matthew, and three grandchildren, who have yet to be told of his honour, although Mr Cox has known about it for the past two months.

Mr Cox was a cub leader in Bradford on Avon before taking a break from the scout movement. He came back in retirement to become District Chairman of the Wiltshire West District Scout Association for the past 15 years.

The Wiltshire West district has 12 Scout groups with more than 800 members in Melksham, Warminster, Bradford on Avon, Trowbridge, Westbury and surrounding villages.

Five years ago, Mr Cox helped mastermind the £140,000 purchase of the new Jubilee Woods scout campsite and youth activity centre on a 14-acre field at West Ashton. The new field, next to Biss Wood, was bought from farmer Chris Awdry, with money raised through donations and grants.

Since then, Mr Cox and the scouts have planted more than 8,000 trees and the campsite is being used by Guides, schools and other youth and community groups as well as the scouts.

His nomination said: “John’s dogged and extraordinary research, fundraising and negotiating efforts for their new ‘green-field’ camping site, when the one they had used for many a year was suddenly no longer available to them, was impressive.

“Any lesser individual would have failed miserably in what looked like an impossible challenge. But, undaunted, and having achieved the goal, John continued to work tirelessly throughout a very wet winter with his own bare hands to plant trees and generally turn this clay field into a splendid camp.”

Mr Cox has also been chairman of the Friends of Holy Trinity for the past ten years, where his main task has been to organise events to raise funds to help maintain, preserve and repair the fabric of the ancient Norman church.

While he is not regular church-goer, Mr Cox threw himself into the task of helping to organise, and taking responsibility for the fundraising of, the re-ordering project at Holy Trinity Church which was completed last year. He also coined the catch-phrase ‘Holy Trinity’s Big Community Connection – Opening Our Doors’ to capture the vision of the project.

The Rector of Holy Trinity Church, the Reverend Canon Joanna Abecassis, praised Mr Cox’s “remarkable contribution” to the community Bradford on Avon and his work with the scouts.

She said: “John has clearly contributed a lot in his working life, but it is a joy to see someone turning those skills and that experience to such effective community use in retirement.

“His sheer energy, joie de vivre and utter commitment to a cause which serves his fellow humanity is astonishing and an example to us all.”