New Year's Honours: Norfolk bell ringer Betty Baines appointed MBE

Bell ringer Betty Baines at St Mary's Church, Diss Betty Baines regularly rings from the tower at St Mary's Church, Diss

A woman who has helped secure the future of bell ringing across the east of England has been appointed MBE in the New Year Honours list for her services to campanology.

Betty Baines, 67, from Diss, has been ringing bells for more than 50 years.

Currently master of the Ladies Guild of Change Ringers' eastern district, she has taught hundreds of people to ring church bells since the 1980s.

She said to be given the honour felt "amazing".

The guild district covers her home county of Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex.

"It feels fantastic, it's an amazing feeling," she said.

"It's also an amazing coincidence as my brother George, who lives in Sussex, got the MBE in last year's honours list for farming and charity."

'Wonderful occupation'

Mrs Baines added: "I've taught hundreds over the years, encouraging them to take it up and get as much enjoyment out if it as I have.

"I like to encourage ladies to do it as it's generally thought of as a men's occupation. We're very short of ringers as it's something very few youngsters are taking up these days.

"You have to have a sense of rhythm, feel the bell on its balance and a good ear."

Other people to be appointed an MBE in Norfolk include Richard Warner, founder of Reepham Green Team for services to energy efficiency in the county.

Derek Webster Derek Webster has been honoured with a British Empire Medal

Sally-Ann Mitchell, from Great Yarmouth, has been recognised for services to farming and rural communities and Peter Grover, from Taverham, for services to children and young people.

And Derek Webster, 79, of Great Yarmouth has been honoured with a British Empire Medal (BEM) for his services to bowls and to charity in the seaside town.

Tournament manager of the Great Yarmouth Festival of Bowls for the past 20 years, Mr Webster said he was "completely overwhelmed" at the news.

More than 1,500 people compete in the festival each year, now regarded as "the biggest outdoor bowls festival in the country", said Mr Webster.

"I had no idea the festival would become so popular, but it's more or less a full-time retirement job."

The festival generates about £1m each year for the seaside town, it is claimed.

Others awarded with a BEM in Norfolk include Robert Francis, from North Walsham, for services to coastguard rescue, and John Gibson for services to music through the Salvation Army in Norwich.

Rachel De Souza, formerly executive principal at Ormiston Victory Academy in Norwich, has been made a dame.

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