THE man who founded the East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service along with a Hailsham police officer have been honoured in the Queen’s birthday honours list.
Trevor Weeks who founded the East Sussex WRAS in 1996, is to receive an MBE, while PC Kate Brookman, who has been a Neighbourhood Schools Officer covering south Wealden for 17 years, has been awarded the Queen’s Police Medal.
Eastbourne-born Trevor has spent all of his life living in East Sussex, and was just 13-years-old when he first became involved with wildlife rescue and conservation work.
It is estimated that Trevor has now been on call helping wildlife in need for over 145,000 hours for the Stone Cross-based charity and helped rescue approximately 50,000 animals over the last 27 years.
He said that he would not be receiving this award if it was not for the help and support of WRAS’s supporters, its volunteers and committee.
The first he knew of the honour was a letter from the Cabinet Office a month ago. He said: “I opened the letter whilst in a long queue of traffic on my way to the Casualty Centre one morning, I had to pull over into a lay-by to re-read it several times. To say the least, I was shocked. I never thought I would ever be accepted for anything like this. I feel privileged to be named for such an prestigious award.”
Trevor is now awaiting an invitation to an investiture ceremony organised by the Central Chancery of the Order of Knighthood at St James’s Palace. Once this has taken place WRAS hope to hold a small celebration as a thank you to its supporters and volunteers.
He added: “I would like to express my personal thanks to all our loyal volunteers and supporters without whom WRAS would not exist and my role helping wildlife would not be possible. I do not see this award as being mine, but as a national acknowledgement of everyone past and present who have helped make me who I am and have made my involvement in WRAS what it is today.
“I feel deeply honoured to receive this award, and I hope this will help bring in funding and prove our commitment to help wildlife in need.”
PC Kate Brookman has worked with thousands of children over many years and is affectionately known as ‘PC Kate’.
She explained: “It started when I went to my first school assembly for children aged only four or five. I thought it would be simpler for them to remember my first name, but it was also important to keep the ‘PC’. I wanted them to learn that police are people who are friendly and who they can trust.
“Since then, it’s stuck! In the local area, everyone calls me that. Some of the young people I used to work with now have children of their own at school, so there are whole generations who call me ‘PC Kate’. I love it, but it’s sometimes confusing when people come to the police station or call asking for me!”
PC Kate first joined Sussex Police as a special constable, because she wanted to see what it was like before deciding if it was the right choice for her. She has been a full-time officer for 26 years - with roles including neighbourhood officer in Eastbourne, communications officer at Gatwick and crime scene support officer - before she found her passion working with young people.
Talking about what she enjoys most about her role, she added: “I am lucky to meet so many great young people, especially as they can unfairly get a bad name from others. I feel privileged already to work with them, so could hardly believe when I was told I’d be receiving an honour from the Queen.
“Of course, I also help schools and families deal with some really difficult issues. What makes me most proud is when I can help a young person through a really rough patch or when they come back when they’re older and tell me I helped keep them on the right path and out of trouble.
“I’m a huge believer in working with the community. The police cannot identify issues or solve problems on our own. I am lucky to have schools who phone me regularly, shops that let me know what’s going on, not to mention all the assistance from young people’s families and friends and the wider public.
“The world changes, but young people and their issues stay largely the same. I’m still doing the safety talks in schools and speaking with head teachers like I did 17 years ago, but these days I also have 1,900 Facebook friends who I share advice with and who sometimes ask me for help.”
PC Kate Brookman is married to Sussex Police officer Chief Inspector Steve Brookman, who works in the Operational Communications Department, and they have two teenage boys. Her family are excited to be accompanying her to Buckingham Palace later in the year where she’ll receive the honour.
Chief Constable Martin Richards adds: “I am delighted that Kate’s passion to serve her local community has been recognised. The way Kate has dedicated her career to working with young people - from giving them the knowledge to stay safe at a very young age through to helping them during really challenging times in later years - is an inspiration to us all.”