A RETIRED headmaster from Silsden has been awarded the British Empire Medal for his wide-ranging community work.

Mike Carey has received the accolade in the New Year’s Honours List following many years as a volunteer in Silsden, Addingham and Ilkley.

The 72-year-old is heavily involved in activities both in the classroom and outdoors with pupils of Hothfield Junior School in Silsden and Addingham Primary School.

As news of the medal was revealed this week, Mr Carey paid tribute to his wife Brenda, who died last year, for supporting his voluntary work.

He said: “Brenda’s encouragement for my activities was invaluable. I could not have done it without this – she was wonderful.”

Mr and Mrs Carey jointly led junior groups at Silsden Methodist Church and worked together at the Churches Together in Silsden Contact Club for adults with learning disabilities.

Mr Carey learned of the British Empire Medal nomination during the autumn at a special ceremony at Silsden Methodist Church attended by his three sons, Jonathan and Ben who both live in Lancashire, and Thomas who has learning disabilities.

Mr Carey moved to Silsden in 1974 and became headmaster of Bingley C of E First school, then for 18 years of All Saints C of E First School in Ilkley.

He took early retirement in 1996 and then spent more than a decade as a supply teacher in Silsden and Addingham. He also became a governor at Hothfield School as well as a long-time volunteer.

He runs outdoor pursuits for both Hothfield and Addingham schools, Saturday walks and an annual Three Peaks Challenge.

He manages the Hothfield running club and provides transport on many occasions for both schools.

Mr Carey has taken part in several London marathons and 25 half-marathons, raising money for a range of charities.

Mr Carey, who also helps a parent and toddler group and the Smith Teal Housing Association, said he had a simple motivation for his community work.

He said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed watching children, young people, and adults with learning disabilities learn to work together, face challenges and grow in confidence.

“It’s very fulfilling and a great privilege to do this. It’s not really work, it’s fun.”

James Proctor, head of Hothfield Junior School, said: “I’m so glad the enormous contribution that Mike Carey has made to the life of literally hundreds of Silsden children has been recognised.

“He adds so much to our community and takes so little in return – just our heartfelt thanks

“On the residential trips he supports our children’s development as they build their self-esteem and their steps towards independence.

“In the running club Mike supports the children as they build their confidence and self-belief as well as their running skills.”