MBEs are given for love and innovation
A long-serving company director and a gay rights vicar from the Devizes area have been made MBEs in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
Ralph Flower, who was 87 on Tuesday and is a director of Cross Manufacturing in Devizes, received the accolade for his services to the British engineering industry and to the community in Devizes.
Mr Flower began working for Cross Manufacturing in Bath as a trainee engineer in 1942 when he was 15.
In the early 1960s he set up the company’s Devizes factory in the former Central Wilts Bacon Factory in Bath Road, starting with just six employees.
The firm outgrew the site and relocated to a purpose-built factory at Hopton Industrial Estate in 1998. Expansion continued into another large unit on the industrial estate and the company now employs about 320 staff in Devizes.
It makes heat-resisting metallic seals for the aerospace, automotive and power generation industries worldwide.
Mr Flower, who lives in Devizes, continues to work three or four days a week and said: “It’s an honour to have been given the MBE and I hope it encourages other young people to go into engineering. The kind of engineering we are in is fascinating. We are involved in innovating products and it is the challenge of maintaining a viable product in an intensely competitive world. Cross is a family firm with family values and that makes a big difference.”
He is married with one son and four grandchildren and is a member of Devizes Rotary Club.
Reverend Colin Coward received the MBE for his services to equality.
Mr Coward set up the organisation Changing Attitude in 1995 while living in Wimbledon, London. It campaigns for the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the Church of England.
Mr Coward, 68, who lives in Worton, said: “I realised from people’s reactions just how big an impact the award is in my world of work in the church and in gay organisations generally and the significance of the work in Changing Attitude. The vision for Changing Attitude was something very small and it has evolved into an organisation that has international groups.”
Although recent legislation allows same-sex marriages it also allows churches to ban them and Mr Coward said his organisation still has work to do.
“There’s still important work to be done and it makes me feel very sad that the love people feel for each other is still not understood, welcomed and celebrated by churches. It’s a tragedy for society,” he said.
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