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Birthday honours for our heroes

Rail industry leader Colin Flack, pictured with his wife Ruth, gained an OBE in celebration of the Queen's birthday. (photo Wikimedia)
Rail industry leader Colin Flack, pictured with his wife Ruth, gained an OBE in celebration of the Queen's birthday. (photo Wikimedia)

THE Queen’s birthday honours included the usual mix of celebrities, politicians, civil servants and local heroes.

As well as Colin Flack (see below), OBEs were awarded to Stratford business developer Keith Vinning, for services to aviation safety, and Roger Wiglesworth, from Warwick, for voluntary and charitable services.

A British Empire Medal was given to Nigel Hailey, county commissioner for the Scout Association, for voluntary service to young people in Warwickshire.

The list included a special section for those nominated for their work during the coronavirus crisis.

Jane Davenport, from Henley, was one of those from the Herald area to feature in that part of the list. As headteacher of Reynalds Cross School in Solihull, she received an MBE “for services to young people with special educational needs and disabilities, particularly during Covid-19”.

Richard Sharp, from Pebworth, also received an MBE on that part of the list. He was named as functional delivery lead at Capgemini and was honoured for services to vulnerable people.

A BEM was given to Margaret Zambonini, from Haselor, for services to those with dementia and their carers.

'I am humbled beyond belief'

THE man whose vision has helped Stratford district become home to a major site for rail innovation was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours.

Colin Flack’s award recognises his sustained leadership and commitment to industry.

In particular, it honours his contribution to championing and supporting the UK rail supply chain, as well as his role as independent chair of the Birmingham Airport Consultative Committee and national chairman of the UKACC.

Colin began his career in the army in 1978 as a serving soldier and went on to graduate as an officer from the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. He achieved the rank of colonel and is a veteran of Northern Ireland, the Gulf War and Kosovo.

After leaving the military in 2010, Colin and wife Ruth took over the ex-MOD Royal Engineers Central Depot in Long Marston and set up Quinton Rail Technology Centre.

This is now a significant rail business hub, one of just four testing centres of excellence and the largest specialist off-lease rolling stock storage site in the country.

QRTC is also the home of Rail Live, an event first held in a car park in 2012 and now recognised as Europe’s largest outdoor railway show. Vivarail’s battery train and the Porterbrook/Birmingham Centre for Rail Research and Education’s HydroFLEX – featured in last week’s Herald – are just two examples of the work there.

While setting it up, Colin also began working with the Manufacturing Advisory Service in the Midlands at a time when the automotive industry took a downturn in 2010.

He identified an opportunity to help small and medium-sized enterprises redirect skills and capability into the rail sector. This was the beginning of the Rail Alliance. In 2014, he became one of the key players in forming the Rail Supply Group.

Alongside his work with industry, Colin has embarked on various major fundraising initiatives over the years, including cycling 900 miles from Land’s End to John O’Groats and running the London Marathon several times.

He said: “It was a total surprise to discover that I had received this award. I am humbled beyond belief to have been nominated and feel honoured that the work I’ve been involved in over the years has been recognised in one of the most significant ways possible. Helping SMEs is a real passion of mine.

“The ultimate reward for me is to see businesses with great ideas and a desire to succeed not only do well but to really thrive, particularly during tough times in an industry that isn’t always the easiest to navigate.”

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