Bow community worker awarded British Empire Medal
PUBLISHED: 22:30 13 June 2014
A community worker helping Bow’s older men has been awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Ray Gipson, 73, launched The Geezers Club eight years ago, involving older gentlemen in various projects and activities from football ground visits to volunteering at the London Olympics.
The group was formed after research carried out by Age UK showed few men were interested in turning up to their day centres in Tower Hamlets, because of a lack of male-friendly activities.
Ray, who also served Bow East as Liberal Democrat councillor for 12 years, is delighted to be receiving the honour for services to the community in Bow.
“I’m absolutely over the moon and ever so proud because it’s something you’d never ever expect,” he said.
“However I wouldn’t be receiving it without the comradeship of others.
“A lot of hard work has gone in behind the scenes with people putting me forward for this, so I’d like to thanks all those involved.”
The club is also helping bridge the gap between the youth and the elderly with successful integration with youngsters at Bow Boys Secondary School and through inter-generation work with the University of East London.
A retired lorry driver, Ray was made aware of the need for the group after spending time volunteering with Age UK.
Although sworn to secrecy until today, Ray admitted he couldn’t hide the news from his three children, nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren
“I just couldn’t keep it from them, but I made them promise to keep it a secret until now,” he added.