AN 81-YEAR-OLD from Lover has been recognised in the Queen's New Year's Honours list for services to the community.

Paul Bromage has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM). The honour is in recognition for the work he has done particularly during Covid.

Read more: Dstl staff recognised in New Year's Honours list 

"I'm still in shock," said Paul, who says he was "totally dumbfounded and gobsmacked" when he received the letter.

But, he admits the toughest part has been keeping it a secret from his family and friends.

"I'm terrible at keeping secrets."

Paul has lived in the village of Lover for more than 31 years where he has been involved with the local church and youth groups.

He has also previously been a leader for the Boys Brigade and was chair of the Parent and Teacher Association and chair of governors at Downton School before it became Trafalgar School.

His involvement in the community didn't stop there; he became chairman of the village hall committee and thanks to his practical carpentry skills, he has given thousands of hours supporting many church projects from mundane repairs to building kitchens.

Salisbury Journal:

Paul fixing a road sign

Paul also set up The Lover Cafe to offer a social outlet for the elderly to combat loneliness, which was followed by ‘Silver Surfer’ IT sessions and later the Lover Repair Workshop Cafe.

The cafe, which was set up back in 2019, repairs all kinds of electrical items, furniture, toys, computers and other items - stopping them from ending up in landfill.

It also provides a place for like-minded individuals, mostly retirees, with new hobbies and an improved sense of self-worth.

Lockdown failed to stop the work of the repair cafe team as a “remote repair centre” was set up in March 2020 as a temporary means of continuing the services with volunteers working from their homes.

The workshop has continued operating during Covid, adhering to the strict social distancing guidelines, providing important connections within the community.

Donations made have raised around £10,000 to support NHS staff at Salisbury District Hospital.

An additional £1,000 was given to the Lover pre-school to allow them to operate during Covid.

Currently, the team at the repair cafe are assisting Redlynch Parish Council in refurbishing village road signs.

"I feel very honoured. All these years you do these things it is purely part of your nature," added Paul who says he doesn't do the community work for any recognition.

He says he "can't help it" when it comes to volunteering to help and jokes: "I don't know how to say no."

"It is just like an extension of your family. If you love your family and want to look after them you want them in a nice environment so you want to love your neighbours. That's the way I see it really."

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