Ian Sheldon – Peterborough charity hero!

↑ Ian Sheldon, BEM, for services to Castor village community

In the first of our series about true Peterborough heroes, we talk to Ian Sheldon of Castor, who won the British Empire Medal in the New Year Honours List for his services to the community

You’ve just been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to the community in your home village of Castor. How did all the charity work begin?
I moved into the village about 25 years ago, and it’s very much a place with a big community. I went into the pub and people were interested in me and asked me who I was – we’d moved from near Cambridge where people didn’t seem to have a lot of interest in others! My kids were at the school, so we got involved in parent/teacher activities, the pantomime, and from that we very quickly became part of the community. I was involved in the youth club, and was summoned to a meeting in the village hall for a ticking off as we were wrecking the place – but I walked out of the meeting as Chairman of the Village Hall, somehow! It just happened! So then I got involved in activities such as young people doing band practise in the village hall, lending them sound equipment and so forth, and also in the village festival with another local called Julie Taylor – we basically made it much bigger. Whatever’s going on in the village, I’ve sort of accumulated all this knowledge of where everything is, and I have quite a lot of event equipment, and I just help people wherever I can. I just like being helpful, really!

So how did winning the medal come about?
I think a few people in the village just thought: yes, that’s a good idea. A chap named Martin Chillcott filled in the forms and found people in the village who’d had my help, and they all wrote letters of support.

Did you know what they were up to?
It was a total surprise. A letter arrived from the Cabinet Office, with On Her Majesty’s service on it and also ‘Private and Confidential’ – which my wife immediately opened! She phoned me, and I was leaping up and down, I was so excited. The thing that has meant the most to me is that, when the news came out on New Year’s Eve, everyone in the village was sort of… overcome! I was walking down the street and people were stopping their cars, coming over to me and hugging me. That’s what it’s like in Castor!

What aspect of your charity work are you most proud of?
Well, this is what makes me feel slightly embarrassed about getting an award! The thing is I know people in the village who will visit others when they’re not well and talk to them, spend time with them, and there are others who administer funds to people in need in the village, if they’re really stuck – all that sort of thing is always quietly going on in the village. So I think what has made me most proud is that, in terms of community, Castor is already punching above its weight. I feel like I’m the support act, really.

Are you and the rest of the village excited about the presentation of the medal?
I thought it would be really nice if the medal was presented in the community, rather than me going up to Shire Hall in Cambridge. I’ve been informed that doing it that way is fine, so we’re going to have it in the village hall with a tea dance, the presentation, with everyone in the village who knows me. We party quite well here in Castor!

Do you know a Peterborough hero? They could be anyone, from a nurse to a farmer, a volunteer to an entrepreneur providing jobs and services in the community. Get in touch to nominate your Peterborough Hero by emailing

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