Founder of the JPK project – Jill Parker – has been awarded the MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List
The accolade comes after 35 years of working in the community to raise the profile of children and adults living with a learning disability.
Today Jill is best known for her work on the JPK Project, but has set up multiple organisations over the past 35 years, many of which are still running today. She has also raised millions of pounds for people living with a learning disability and is still tirelessly fundraising to make the JPK Project’s dream of creating a residential and work experience centre a reality.
Jill found out she was in the running for the MBE after receiving a ‘strictly confidential’ letter from the Prime Minister’s cabinet office back in April.
Only on Friday (June 12) was she able to share her elation with friends, family and supporters in the community.
On Friday, she told the Gazette, “I am extremely honoured to have been awarded the MBE by Her Majesty The Queen in her birthday honours list.
“My daughter Katie was my initial inspiration along with all her friends and their families who have helped during my journey over the years to try and raise the profile of the needs and facilities for people with a learning disability in Eastbourne and the surrounding area.
“I couldn’t have achieved so much without the support of my family, friends, wonderful supporters and colleagues over the years.
“You are all part of this accolade.”
Jill’s daughter Katie is now 36, but Jill started raising funds and awareness shortly after she was born.
She said, “When Katie was born we met other parents with babies who had a learning disability and it went from there.”
Jill started by setting up Eastbourne Area Parent Action Group in 1981. Shortly afterwards she set up the Portage Early Learning Scheme, which was taken over by the hospital and is still running today.
Jill also assisted in the formation of the Scott unit at the DGH, which she describes as a ‘one-stop shop’ for parents of children with a learning disability.
She went on to manage the Chalk Farm Hotel for ten years. That too is still going strong.
The JPK Project started in 2001 following a cream tea in the garden of Jill’s Willingdon home. Hundreds of thousands have been raised since and the funds have enabled Jill to purchase the former Edgmond Church site in Old Town for £600,000 .
But the project has not been without its hitches. It took Jill years to find a suitable location for the centre and then council planners turned down her application for the Edgmond Church site. The planning committee’s decision was overturned by a planning inspector and now Jill is working to raise the £3 million needed to commence building.
The finished centre will provide training and work experience for people with learning difficulties in addition to accommodation.
There will be 16 en-suite apartments for people who need 24-hour support and eight apartments for more able people. There will also be communal rooms and residents will be working in the tea room and charity shop.
The full list of honours are as follows:
Thomas Baird Jeffery, CB. Director general, Department for Education, Children’s Services and Departmental Strategy Directorate. For services to the Department for Education. (Lewes, East Sussex)
ORDER OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE
Jonathan Church. Artistic director Chichester Festival Theatre. For services to the Theatre. (Chichester, West Sussex)
Professor Julian Moray Crampton, DL. Vice Chancellor, University of Brighton. For services to Higher Education. (East Sussex)
Alan Finch. Executive director Chichester Festival Theatre. For services to the Theatre. (Chichester, West Sussex)
Ms Melanie Jane Leech. Director general Food and Drink Federation. For services to the Food and Drink Industry. (Horsham, West Sussex)
David Patrick Henry Burgess, MBE, DL. For services to Young People and the Community in West Sussex. (Chichester, West Sussex)
Roderick Barrymore Brooke Jones. For services to the community in Bognor Regis West Sussex. (Bognor Regis, West Sussex)
Desmond Paul Lambert. Principal Plumpton College. For services to Land Based Education and Young People. (Lewes, East Sussex)
Mrs Shelagh Jane Legrave. Principal and chief executive, Chichester College. For services to Further Education. (Midhurst, West Sussex)
Dr Hong Lu. For services to the Chinese community in the UK and Community Relations between the UK and China. (Hove, East Sussex)
Leslie Henry Alden. For services to the community in Southwark London. (Shoreham by Sea, West Sussex)
Mrs Lorraine Brockhurst. Work Experience Co-ordinator, Worthing, HM Revenue and Customs. For services to Young People in the Workplace. (Worthing, West Sussex)
Ms Clare Collins. Chair of Governors Weyfield Primary Academy, Surrey. For services to Education and School Governance. (Haywards Heath, West Sussex)
Anthony John French, TD. For services to the community in Chichester West Sussex. (Chichester, West Sussex)
Mrs Jean Stella Goad. District and Parish Councillor, Arun District, West Sussex. For services to Local Government. (Barnham, West Sussex)
Robert James Goddard. Foster Carer Brighton and Hove. For services to Children and Families. (Peacehaven, East Sussex)
Trevor Green. For services to Humanitarian Aid through Operation Florian and to charity in East Sussex. (Mayfield, East Sussex)
Andrew David James Jackson. Director Wakehurst Place, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. For services to Conservation. (West Sussex)
Mrs Helen Joanna Mary Kilbride-Roberts. Chair, Ditchling Museum of Art and Craft, West Sussex. For services to the Arts and Crafts.
Mrs Valerie Joy Maynard. Prison Volunteer, HMPrison Lewes. For services to Prisoners and their Families. (East Grinstead, West Sussex)
Mrs Lorraine Mercer. For services to the community and to charity in Haywards Heath, West Sussex. (Haywards Heath, West Sussex)
Mrs Jillian Winifred Parker. Founder, Eastbourne Area Parents’ Action Group and the JPK Sussex Project, Eastbourne. For services to Children and Adults with a Learning Disability and their Families. (Eastbourne, East Sussex)
Lloyd Martin Richards. For services to the community in West Sussex. (East Grinstead, West Sussex)
Iain Shepherd. Marine Systems director MARCOM Defence. For services to the Marine Sector and the Economy in Chichester, West Sussex. (Aldwick, West Sussex)
James George Thomas Smith. For services to the community in Crawley West Sussex. (Crawley, West Sussex)
John Alexander Vincent. Restauranteur. For services to School Food. (Horsted Keynes, West Sussex)
Peter Webb. Founder and managing director Electronic Temperature Instruments Ltd. For services to Business and the community in Worthing, West Sussex. (Worthing, West Sussex)
Mrs Patricia Anne Weller. For voluntary and charitable services in Brighton and Hove. (East Sussex)
BRITISH EMPIRE MEDAL
Graham Robert Carpenter. Chief executive Dandelion Time. For services to Young People and Families in Kent. (Crowborough, East Sussex)
Mrs Joan Downing. Councillor, Westfield Parish Council, East Sussex. For services to Rural Inclusion. (Hastings, East Sussex)
Mrs Myrna Rae Festing. For services to the community in Rye, East Sussex.
Mrs Lorraine Margaret Grocott. Clerk, Milland Parish Council. For services to the community in Milland, West Sussex. (Milland, West Sussex)
Peter Stanley Albert Hayman. For services to the community in Northiam East Sussex. (Rye, East Sussex)
Miss Mary Norah Howse. For services to the community in Beckley and Rye East Sussex. (Rye, East Sussex)
Mrs Josephine Jane Jordan Hutchinson. For services to the Arts in Worthing. (Worthing, West Sussex)
Vernon Lewis Jennings. For services to the Barns Green Half Marathon and to the community in Barns Green West Sussex.
Mrs Claire Judge. Volunteer, Development Committee, Ashurst Wood Community Pre-School. For services to Early Years Education. (West Sussex)
Peter Norman Knowles. For services to the community in West Chiltington West Sussex. (Pulborough, West Sussex)
Mrs Mary Joan Taylor. For services to the community in Burwash, East Sussex. (Etchingham, East Sussex)
Mrs Susan Ward. Chair, West Durrington Phoenix Youth Group. For services to Children and the community in West Durrington. (Worthing, West Sussex)
Miss Rowenna Jane Woodward. For services to Young People in Surrey and West Sussex through the Guide and Scout Movements. (Copthorne, West Sussex)
QUEEN’S FIRE SERVICE MEDAL
Gary Charles Walsh. Deputy chief Fire Officer East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service.