Etchingham councillor ‘humbled’ by community MBE

Cllr John Barnes SUS-170501-121353001
Cllr John Barnes SUS-170501-121353001

A county councillor who pioneered the building of Etchingham’s new village and school halls was ‘humbled and honoured’ to be recognised in the New Year’s Honours list.

Cllr John Barnes will receive an MBE for voluntary services to the community in Etchingham after nearly two decades of work to get the new halls agreed.

The East Sussex County Council representative for Rother North West, which covers the village, said although he was grateful for the award, it was a community effort.

“Obviously I am conscious that a great many people in the village have played a part in getting us where we are so I regard the honour as one for the village rather than just for me,” he said.

“In fact I regard myself as the topmost part of the visible part of an iceberg.

“There are other major players in the drama that can be regarded as component parts of the visible bit, but a massive concealed support that became apparent when it looked as if the planners might turn down the scheme as proposed.

“So my absolute delight at being honoured is tempered by my recognition that this was a team effort.

“The nicest part of being honoured for services to the community is that the nomination has come as result of efforts by those within the community, and not the usual route.”

Anthony John Lane Barnes made chairman of the working party tasked with delivering a new village hall in 1996 shortly after moving to Etchingham.

A site was found with the help of a cooperative landowner and in 2005 it was included in Rother District Council’s local plan for a mixed development with housing.

But a bid for lottery funding failed at the last hurdle and further issues meant it looked unlikely.

However with the help of East Sussex County Council funding, and Rother planning committee going against its officers, the halls were approved.

“It’s been a huge part of the village history of the last decade and a half and I have played a continuous role within that,” Cllr Barnes said.

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