A man who looked after York’s famous city walls for nearly four decades is among those to receive recognition in this year’s New Year Honours List.
Chris Wooldridge, 62, of Holgate, was the keeper of the walls for 37 years.
In that role, Chris walked thousands of miles opening and closing the gates to the walls in all weathers.
It was a very responsible role, and the achievement is even more impressive given that Chris has autism.
Tonight (Friday) it was revealed that Chris is the recipient of a British Empire Medal, for services to the community in York.
Every day until he retired on Boxing Day last year, Chris would walk the three-mile length of the walls in the morning to open the gates – unless it was too icy for them to be opened safely.
And at night he would walk the same three miles to ensure everyone was safely off and the walls locked again.
Cllr Keith Aspden, leader of City of York Council said: “York’s walls are an important part of the identity of our city.
“For more than 30 years Chris played an essential role in opening the walls to the huge number of people who visited each year.
“He worked tirelessly, in all weathers, to ensure that multiple generations could enjoy this very special part of our history, and make new memories. We think this honour is very well deserved and are grateful to Chris for his many years of service to our city.”
Chris’s brother Dave told YorkMix: “We’d see him go out in all weathers, even when it was slinging it down.
“And he had to wait till dusk to close them again – which could be 9 or 10 at night in the summer. He’d go round with his torch.
“It wasn’t always easy, particularly when you had to ask people who had been drinking to leave at night.
“The family, including all his three brothers, are so proud he’s got this award. It means a lot that he’s been recognised in this way.”
Services to equality
York academic Professor Kate Pickett has been awarded an OBE for Services to Societal Equality in the New Year Honours.
Prof Pickett is a social epidemiologist at the University of York, specialising in research into health inequalities, and particularly their impact on child development.
She and her husband Prof Richard Wilkinson founded The Equality Trust which works to improve the quality of life by reducing socio-economic inequality through campaigning for change.
Prof Pickett said: “I am so pleased to be honoured for my work researching and promoting societal equality, and I’m proud to be doing this work in a university that has public good at the heart of its vision and strategy.”
Vice-Chancellor Professor Charlie Jeffery, said: “Kate is an outstanding academic whose contribution to a fairer society is exceptional and an inspiration to us all.
“Her passion is working in partnership with communities to understand and address inequalities, helping to provide solutions for policy makers and the public alike.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank her for her tireless commitment to reducing inequality and to congratulate her on this well-deserved recognition.”
Former Deputy Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police Phil Cain is receives the King’s Police Medal.
He retired in January after a 20-year career with the force, during which he tackled everything from multiple murders to floods to Covid.
North Yorkshire Police Chief Constable, Lisa Winward, said: “We’re delighted that Phil will receive the King’s Police Medal for his services to policing.
“During his time at North Yorkshire Police he was an inspiration and role model of diversity.
“He led on and played an instrumental role in national work to improve internal confidence in UK policing with officers and staff from ethnic minorities. He led change in leadership culture and in how internal police investigations into misconduct are carried out across the country.
“In addition to this, he gave immense support to colleagues of all levels. He was a valuable mentor to many people with a personal dedication and drive to proving that background should not ever be a barrier to progression and success.
“We are really proud of Phil for all of his achievements and delighted to see him recognised with this award.”
Here are a full list of the recipients of New Year Honours in our area.
Commanders of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)
Export Champion and Entrepreneur. For services to International Trade
Lesley is a champion of global trade and founded Export Boot Camps
Officers of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)
Professor Kate Elizabeth Pickett
Professor of Epidemiology, University of York. For services to Societal Equality
(Colton, North Yorkshire)
Richard Edward Sheriff
Chief Executive Officer, Red Kite Learning Trust. For services to Education
Lately Deputy Director, Vulnerable Children Unit, Department for Education. For Public Service
Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)
Chief Systems Engineer, Serco, RAF Fylingdales. For services to Royal Air Force Operational Capability
Kenneth Brian Gill
For services to the community in Ryedale, North Yorkshire
(Pocklington, East Riding of Yorkshire)
Ken is the former chief officer of Ryedale Community Transport
Antony Robson Jameson-Allen
Co-Founder, The Sporting Memories Foundation. For services to Dementia and Loneliness
Robert Geoffrey Oliver
Lately Chief Executive Officer, Construction Equipment Association. For services to the Construction Equipment Manufacturing Sector
Jillian Claire Quinn
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Dementia Forward. For services to People with Dementia
Executive Director, Mind the Gap. For services to Theatre and to the community in Bradford
Susan Madeleine Smyth
For services to Children and Young People in the East Riding of Yorkshire
Medallists of the Order of the British Empire (BEM medal)
Mark Stephen Bridel
Regional Freight Manager, Network Rail. For services to Charity and to the community in York, North Yorkshire
For services to the community in Harrogate, North Yorkshire
Lorraine Susan Lear
Development Manager, Northallerton and the Dales Mencap Society. For services to People with Learning Disabilities in North Yorkshire
For services to the community in York
King’s Police Medal
Phillip Mark Cain, lately Deputy Chief Constable, North Yorkshire Police