New Year honour for community efforts of Sleaford’s food bank leader

A leader of a charity supporting vulnerable people in the Sleaford area has been named in the Queen’s New Year Honours List.

BEM for Team Leader Rod Munro, with the community table stocked with food for the community at Christmas. EMN-211231-133901001

Roderick John Munro, Community Impact Team Leader at Sleaford New Life Church, has been awarded the British Empire Medal for services to vulnerable people.

He is one of three with local connections to receive honours. The others are Margaret Po Ling Bailey, of Oasby, and Bernie Taupin, born near Anwick.

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He received the news via letter a couple of months ago and has sworn his wife and two sons to secrecy ever since.

Born in Scunthorpe, Rod, 52, moved to Sleaford 34 years ago and joined the church. He oversees the various activities by teams of volunteers based at the New Life Centre on Mareham Lane.

Delighted, he said the honour came as “a bit of a surprise”: “I feel incredibly privileged to be nominated and to receive the recognition is humbling.

“It is the team I work with who help to make this happen and I want to acknowledge that.”

Rod’s role involves him overseeing the volunteers who run The Junction which provides a weekly free meal and interaction for homeless or vulnerable adults. There are also regular themed meals for older people to combat loneliness throughout the year. Another of his teams runs the Sleaford Youth Club and Monday night football sessions for young people.

Meanwhile Rod has been kept busy with the New Life Community Larder food bank for 15 years. The pandemic put a tremendous strain on its ability to meet a surge in need. This included providing food packs to many families each week, shopping and picking up prescriptions for the most vulnerable, to creating an innovative Community Food Table, so that anyone could freely access surplus food.

Rod said: “We were unable to bring our senior citizens to a Christmas event like we have in previous years, so we decided to take a Christmas meal to them this year. 283 meals were delivered by 48 volunteer drivers, which was an amazing success.”

But he added: “I have not forgotten my own struggles and my roots and it is important to remain grounded to help others in difficult times. “My faith provides a foundation to help others struggling and to share the love of God in practical, meaningful ways.”

He said the fantastic volunteers from the church and community work together tirelessly following the motto of “by the community, for the community”.

“Sleaford is a great town and we should all be proud of what we have achieved,” he said.

His award will be presented by the Lord Lieutenant of Lincolnshire, Toby Dennis and will be followed in the summer by an invitation to a garden party at Buckingham Palace. Another local person to receive an honour is Margaret Po Ling Bailey, of Oasby, an occupational psychologist with RAF Recruitment and Selection. She receives an MBE for services to aircrew assessment and aptitude testing.

She commented: “I feel honoured and am delighted to receive the MBE. I am grateful for my colleagues’ support over the years enabling me to carry out the work on the Royal Air Force selection methods.

“My team and I have been working on the development of the many diverse aspects since the early 1990s. I am proud how much it has evolved during this time and that it has become renowned internationally for its effectiveness”.

Another CBE goes to Elton John’s lyricist, Bernie Taupin, for services to music.

Born at Flatters Farmhouse, between Anwick and Sleaford, he and his family also lived at Rowston Manor in North Kesteven, later moving to Owmby-by-Spital near Market Rasen. Bernie later lived at Tealby before leaving the UK for America in the 1970s, last returning 15 years ago.

He recalls his birthplace in two of his poems, one called Flatters (A Beginning) on his 1970 self-titled spoken word album.

At 15, he left school and worked as a farm labourer and an apprentice printer for The Lincolnshire Standard briefly before answering an advert to work with the young Elton John

Taupin is also a renowned visual artist.