Dedicated councillor is given BEM honour

Councillor Josephine Graves
Councillor Josephine Graves

Chipping Norton town councillor Josephine Graves headed the list of Banburyshire residents recognised in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list.

Mrs Graves – a town councillor for more than 20 years and mayor of the town from 2000 to 2003 – was awarded the recently reissued British Empire Medal (BEM) for her services to the community.

She said: “I was extremely humbled when I found out.

“When you are doing all these things you see yourself as a small cog in a big team, I don’t think I’m doing any more than anybody else.

“To think there are people who notice what you are doing and then put you forward – it is unbelievable.

“I just feel overwhelmed and humbled by the fact people should think I am worthy of something like this.”

A teacher for more than 40 years, Mrs Graves remains actively involved in the community in many ways, and has been a governor of 
St Mary’s CoE Primary School in The Green for about six years.

She continues to have key involvement with Chippy Hospital League of Friends and Home-Start Banbury and Chipping Norton, is the parish co-ordinator at St Mary’s Church on behalf of The Children’s Society and has been a member of the church’s parochial council for 20 years.

Recently she again helped organise the ‘Christingle’ event at the church on Christmas Eve, which involved young families and their children.

She added: “It was absolutely brilliant, all the young children were all together and holding a candle when the church lights went out. It has been a wonderful Christmas.”

Mrs Graves, who is married with two children and four grandchildren, was joined on the honours list by David Etheridge, Chief Fire Officer for Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service, who has been awarded an OBE for services to the community.

Mr Etheridge, 48, joined Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service 28 years ago and was the first fire officer in the country to be appointed as chief fire officer in the same county in which he served as a retained firefighter.

He said he was accepting the award on behalf of all people, past and present, who have worked for Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service and the county council, adding: “Receiving the OBE is one of the proudest moments of my life – I never dreamt when I joined that one day I would become chief fire officer of this fantastic fire and rescue service and this really is the icing on the cake.”

Mr Etheridge, married to Rachel with two grown-up sons, has led the Oxfordshire fire service since June 2010.

Meanwhile, lead scientist Eileen Valerie Davison, of Mollington, was handed an MBE for services to Genomic Technologies, while Katherine Powley, county network co-ordinator and Streetworks manager at Oxfordshire County Council, has also been awarded an MBE for services to the community in Oxfordshire.