New Year's Honours for Baptists
A church secretary and local councillor who founded a youth charity was among the Baptists receiving New Year’s Honours recognition
Clive Furness - BEM
Baptist church secretary and local councillor Clive Furness was awarded a BEM (British Empire Medal) in this year’s honours.
The BEM is awarded for ‘hands-on’ service to the community through charitable or voluntary activity. Clive, Clive secretary of Memorial Community Church in Plaistow and a Newham councillor since 1997, has been honoured for making 'a significant difference to the lives of young people' in Newham, said a council statement.
He is the founder, secretary and trustee of youth charity The Swift Centre next door to the church. The Swift Centre runs a number of regular clubs and activities that broaden the horizons of young people. These include football festivals, performing arts and dance programmes, cycling challenges and weekend outdoor expeditions. There is also an annual summer camp and aid missions to far flung parts of the world including Kenya, Ethiopia and Nepal. More than half of the adult volunteers at the centre are former young members.
In addition to his youth work he helped to set up Newham Night Shelter in the early 1990s. Previously he was a barrister giving free representation on employment and immigration tribunals, and has been a trustee at Helping Hands and Real Life Parenting, for families with disabled children.
He told the Newham Recorder, ‘I have pleasure in accepting the award not just for me, but also in recognition of the hard work and sacrifices that so many others, including my partner Jill, have made and continue to make to ensure young people are safe and healthy and have the best start in life.’
Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, said Clive’s BEM was “thoroughly deserved”.
‘He has given outstanding service to the residents of Newham not just as a councillor but also over many years through his dedicated work in support of young people. We can all be delighted for him,’ he said.
Stuart Cornwell - OBE
Stuart Cornwell of Stockton Baptist Tabernacle was made an OBE (Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for his services to charity.
Stuart is the chairman of Spurgeons’, the national children’s charity, and is particularly involved with A Way Out, which focuses on vulnerable women, and Safe Families for Children. He also works with the church’s overseas mission to Kenya and Uganda among Aids-orphaned children and prisoners.
After a varied working life which included a career path in the Navy and senior appointments in the probation service and the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service, Stuart said he wanted his retirement to be ‘meaningful’.
He added that his faith underpins his work.
‘What I do in supporting these charities is part of the calling God has given me,’ he said in an interview with Premier Christian Radio. ‘Each of the charities I worked with has a Christian identity and ethos, and in its service attempts to be honouring to God in all it has done.
‘The greatest award I have is to know the Lord Jesus Christ and to know that I have eternal life. That supercedes any of this, although this is still exciting and meaningful.
‘The important thing for me was to not retire, but to continue to serve the Lord in whichever way I could, and that goes on.’
In a statement, Spurgeons’ said Stuart’s work over the last decade has made a difference to ‘thousands of vulnerable lives’, both here in the UK and overseas.
Ross Hendry, Spurgeons' chief executive, said, ‘The team at Spurgeons is delighted to see Stuart’s dedication and hard work within the charity sector recognised with such a prestigious honour.
‘He has worked tirelessly to support not just us, but also that of a number of other organisations, to help the world’s poorest and most vulnerable children. This honour is most definitely well deserved.’
The charity celebrates its 150th birthday in 2017.