An ex-miner's work with young people in the devasted pit villages has been recognised in the New Year's Honours list. Steve Hook reports
THIS week, Terry Catton was hard at work preparing for prize-giving at the youth club he started 12 years ago for the young people in the former pit villages of South Yorkshire.
Now, the former miner is to be on the receiving end of an award ceremony, as he prepares for a trip to Buckingham Palace to collect an MBE.
Mr Catton was treasurer of a fishing club in South Elmsall, near Barnsley, when he began to organise special angling outings for those who were too young to take part in the adult activities.
From these small beginnings, he formed the South Elmsall Piscatorial Youth Section, which provides not just fishing trips, but holidays and activities for the children of communities which have yet to recover from the pit closures of the 80s and 90s.
Plans for 2003 include trips to Ireland, Scotland and Holland. Previous trips have included weeks in London and Windsor.
Mr Catton said: "When you form an organisation it's always a good idea to have in the title a word nobody can spell.
"I don't know that I deserve such recognition. It keeps you young working with these people and there's not many people who are over 40 and can say they have the respect of young people."
Mr Catton and his wife, Phyllis, have been foster parents to more than 40 children. They now specialise in fostering children with special needs. "I thought maybe I should give up fostering when I got to 60," said Mr Catton, but we've got so much space at home and the place felt kind of empty."
Mrs Catton is secretary of the club, responsible for finding funds from sources including grants and bingo nights. They have two daughters.
South Yorkshire's pit villages have been devastated by unemployment, crime and drug abuse in the wake of the mining redundancies which placed the majority of the men on the dole or in low-wage jobs.
While several attempts have been made, not least by FE colleges, to improve the prospects of the villagers, the graffiti-strewn buildings create an eerie resemblance to inner-city decay despite their isolated and rural setting.
Mr Catton believes the democratic nature of his club, and the confidence-building which comes from communal activities, has made a difference. Weekly meetings are held at which the members agree weekend activities. Many have gone on to jobs which previously they would have lacked the confidence to apply for. Others have had help with life skills including getting through their driving tests.
Along with Mr Catton the following received New Year's honours: MBEs
Maureen Fairbank, learning adviser and support worker, Hull College. Services to special needs education.
Jennifer Gartland, project director, Thanet Basic Skills partnership. Services to adult literacy and numeracy.
Gertrude Goldsmith, chair, Workers Educational Association, Croydon. Services to adult education.
Herman Miller, senior security officer and caretaker, Canterbury College, Kent. Services to FE.
Alan Noble, adult education and lifelong learning officer, Buckinghamshire County Council. Services to adult and community education.
Kevin Richmond, lecturer, Abingdon and Witney College, Oxfordshire. Services to FE.
Gerard Walters, manager, West Oxfordshire Trainng Services. Services to training and social inclusion.
Fadima Zubairu, careers adviser, Connexions, Manchester. Services to young people.
Colin Greenhalgh, former principal, Hills Road Sixth Form College, Cambridge. Services to FE.
Brian Styles, principal, City of Bristol College. Services to FE.
Douglas Brydges, president, Meat Training Council. Services to the meat industry.
Carolyn Hayman, chief executive, Foyer Federation. Services to young people.
Professor Christopher O'Brien, chair, Portland College, Nottingham. Services to further education for the disabled.
Adrian Perry, former principal, Lambeth College, south London. Services to FE (see story left).
Linda Portis, chief executive, Bexley Training Group. Services to vocational training.
Merillie Vaughan-Huxley, who helped the Learning and Skills Council form its equality and diversity policy. Services to young people.
Tom Wylie, chief executive, National Youth Agency. Services to young people.