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Fran Edwards, BEM

by | Jun 24, 2022 | Decorated Villagers, People

In this, the Platinum Jubilee year of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Bishopsteignton Heritage has prepared a series of articles featuring members of the village community who have, been honoured by Her Majesty for services to the nation or the community.

The second of our series features Fran Edwards, BEM (British Empire Medal) awarded for 40 years of volunteering in Bishopsteignton.

Fran and her husband Nigel have lived in Bishopsteignton for over 44 years and for most of that time she has been volunteering for various charities and good causes. In 2018 she was nominated for a British Empire Medal in the New Year Honours List.

Fran had earned her honour for her unstinting work with the elderly, helping with stroke victims, meals on wheels, cooking at the junior school, helping with the village lunch club, and transporting people to hospital and doctor’s visits. She helped with the scouts and cubs and was a first responder with the ambulance service for many years until her own health made that difficult. She also runs the Coffee Cup at the church once a month where any money donated is used to buy flowers for the church and villagers who are ill. It was just a few years ago that Fran bravely volunteered to have her head shaved to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Trust. Her kindness and energy have never gone unnoticed in the village.

Fran Edwards BEM Medal

Fran Edwards BEM Medal

Fran and her husband Nigel have lived in Bishopsteignton for over 44 years and for most of that time she has been volunteering for various charities and good causes. In 2018 she was nominated for a British Empire Medal in the New Year Honours List.

Fran had earned her honour for her unstinting work with the elderly, helping with stroke victims, meals on wheels, cooking at the junior school, helping with the village lunch club, and transporting people to hospital and doctor’s visits. She helped with the scouts and cubs and was a first responder with the ambulance service for many years until her own health made that difficult. She also runs the Coffee Cup at the church once a month where any money donated is used to buy flowers for the church and villagers who are ill. It was just a few years ago that Fran bravely volunteered to have her head shaved to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Trust. Her kindness and energy have never gone unnoticed in the village.

Fran investiture at Plymouth

When the time came to be awarded for all her good work, she received a letter from the Honours Committee. At first, she didn’t believe it, thought it must be a joke. Of course, she was also sworn to secrecy; her husband knew but no-one else in the family was allowed to know until the details were published. She was finally awarded her medal in July of that year.

The presentation was made at Nancy Astor’s house in Plymouth, 3 Elliot Terrace.

https://artuk.org/visit/venues/plymouth-city-council-3-elliot-terrace-6049

It was a beautiful summer’s day and her family went with her. Fran remembers:

We got to Plymouth and tried to find 3, Elliot Terrace. I thought “that can’t be right, it just looks like a normal terrace of houses”. The men went for a walk, because we were early, but I needed the loo so I knocked at the door and the girl who answered said, “Yes you are at the right house, come in.” It was gorgeous inside Nancy Astor’s House. Very tasteful. We had a wonderful tea, there was the High Sherriff of Plymouth, and all sorts of very posh people there who turned out for us.

On that occasion it was a very private affair in that only three people were receiving honours that day. The award was made by the Lord Lieutenant of Devon.

It was a beautiful summer’s day and her family went with her. Fran remembers:

We got to Plymouth and tried to find 3, Elliot Terrace. I thought “that can’t be right, it just looks like a normal terrace of houses”. The men went for a walk, because we were early, but I needed the loo so I knocked at the door and the girl who answered said, “Yes you are at the right house, come in.” It was gorgeous inside Nancy Astor’s House. Very tasteful. We had a wonderful tea, there was the High Sherriff of Plymouth, and all sorts of very posh people there who turned out for us.

On that occasion it was a very private affair in that only three people were receiving honours that day. The award was made by the Lord Lieutenant of Devon.

Even before the presentation Fran was invited to attend the Queen’s Garden party at Buckingham Palace. She remembers:

There was a huge Marquee where tea was served. Trumpets sounded and everyone lined up as Her Majesty walked through the crowd to her own private marquee to have her own tea. The band played and as the Queen returned to the palace everyone lined up again as she passed.

Fran has experienced many fun moments during her volunteering career, including once at camp with the cubs, waking up to find worms, slugs and snails in her sleeping bag. There was a lot of giggling!!!

She also did a sponsored jump from an aircraft and recalls:

Some bright spark at Volunteering in Health put my name forward to do this after a lady who was going to do it fell ill and was unable to do it. I thought “why not?”, so I went round collecting donations and in fact raised £3,500 for Volunteering in Health in Teignmouth.

It was a lovely afternoon and after getting instructions of exactly what to do, 6 of us were each given a qualified sky diver and we took off to 15,000 feet where one by one we were taken to the open door of the plane and shoved out with the sky diver holding around our waists. When you first drop you fall at 130 miles an hour so it is difficult to breath but once the parachute goes up it really is an amazing experience.

When asked if I would do it again I said, “not sure about that!” but I’m so pleased I did it.

Fran just wants to help people and has spent her life doing just that. In her words,

Helping people is what village life should be all about.

 

References