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Long term library champion honoured in New Year’s honours list

Suffolk Libraries is congratulating Richard Fawcett, Chair of the Friends of Thurston Library who is receiving a British Empire Medal for services to public libraries in the New Year’s Honours list.

A former head of Thurston Community College, Richard played a pivotal role in the opening of a library in Thurston for the public and students in the mid 1990s. After campaigning to keep the library open in 2011 Richard played a key role in the formation of Suffolk Libraries, which was launched as an independent and charitable organisation to run the library service from 2012.

Richard has been Chair of Thurston Library Friends since its formation in 2013. His proactive and positive approach was crucial in helping to establish other library groups across Suffolk and in ensuring Thurston Library continues to play a key role in community life. Richard is particularly passionate about the role libraries play in supporting community wellbeing.

He has been involved in championing libraries nationally and the contribution they have to people’s lives, as discussed in an interview with the Department for Culture Media and Sport in 2018 which can be seen in this video.

Richard’s ongoing belief in the potential for libraries to make a significant difference to local communities has led to many innovative developments and events at the library. These include live music and theatre productions, arts projects for local young people, an extension to the library’s opening hours, a Christmas Tree Festival and Thurston hosting a live broadcast of BBC Radio 4’s Any Questions.

Richard Fawcett said:

“I’m amazed and delighted to receive this great honour. Working in Thurston with Suffolk Libraries staff, and the Friends Group whose members have each done so much, has been a privilege and pleasure. It is their tremendous work that is being recognised too. From encouraging children to enjoy books and reading, to providing a base to acquire new skills and enjoy activities with other people, Libraries play a pivotal role in communities. In Thurston, which is growing rapidly, the library will play a central role in integrating newcomers into the village."

Bruce Leeke, Chief Executive of Suffolk Libraries, said:

“Everyone at Suffolk Libraries is thrilled that Richard is receiving this much deserved recognition for his work. He has not only made a massive contribution to his local community but has also provided invaluable ongoing support to Suffolk Libraries over the past eight years. It’s been a joy working with such a positive and enthusiastic individual. It shows how important libraries are to communities when those who work so hard to develop and nurture them are acknowledged like this.”