A charity founder has revealed his delight at being included in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
Paul Bowen-James, 60, of Clarence Road, Leighton Buzzard, will receive a British Empire Medal for his work in setting up and running Kids in Action – a charity which supports children with special needs.
Since its inception in 1996 Paul and his team have work tirelessly to grow the charity and it now has a 10,000sq ft base at the Apex Business Centre in Dunstable.
As well as hosting daily and weekly sessions for children, Kids in Action also offers subsidised holidays for families at its three caravans in Caister, Norfolk.
Paul came up with the idea for the charity after noticing that special needs children did not have the opportunity to go to youth clubs like other kids.
He told the LBO: “It is such a pleasure to run, I am a lucky man. This is a vision I had 20 years ago and it has now become my career, it is a real honour.
“It is my baby and is something that will be here forever, its success has been tremendous.
“To get this award is fabulous, I just can’t express the words.
“It is also brilliant for the team here because I can’t do this job without the people behind me.”
After starting out at Houghton Regis Community Centre one night a week, the charity moved to a premises on Tavistock Street, Dunstable, in 2007.
From its current base Kids in Action not only supports children – it also runs an over 18s club.
Paul added: “We have got some kids who came to us when they were six and now they are 26, we’ve also been having 30th birthday parties. at the centre.
“They are not just members, they are my friends.
“I’ve got lifelong friends with the parents too.
“We’ve become a self help group with them and the parents themselves had forged lifetime friendships with each other.”
> Stewkley’s Alastair Cook has been made a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
The honour caps off a fine month for the England cricket captain, who on May 28 became the country’s most prolific Test cricket batsman ever.