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Veteran journalist collects her MBE

Veteran Kentish Express writer Barbara Butcher, (85), has been presented with her MBE awarded in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for her outstanding services to the community.

It comes after almost 58 unbroken years of finding and filing stories for Kent newspapers.

Despite her official retirement many years ago, she still contributes weekly both as a valued village correspondent and with stories from the groups and causes she has campaigned for and with over the decades.

The investiture citation read: “She began her career with the Kentish Express in 1945, and is the oldest working journalist in Kent, apart from Lord Deedes of Aldington who has supported her application.

“Throughout the years Barbara has become involved in many charities and local activities and has also acted as chairman of the League of Friends of the William Harvey hospital.

“However, she gained even more respect when at the age of 83, she signed up for a sponsored bungee jump. Barbara was first in the queue to volunteer for the terrifying 200ft drop in the Wye Charity Challenge to raise money for the Demelza House Children’s Hospice.

“Alongside the support of Lord Deedes, the Countess Mountbatten of Burma reaffirmed Barbara’s reliability, acknowledging her great contribution to Kent newspapers and local charities.”

  • Lord Lieutenant of Kent Allan Willett
    presents Barbara’s award
  • Barbara began writing at the age of five, when she went to Kent College in Folkestone and impressed teachers with the apparent ease with which she could express herself.

    She spent 13 years at the college but then there was little time between her leaving school and the outbreak of the Second World War during which she spend two years in Folkestone driving an ambulance.

    She then moved to Wales to work for the Ministry of Shipping working on the administration of convey work from Newport docks, returning to Ashford in 1944, working for the 1st Kent Home Guard where she was taught to fire a .22 rifle and was put in charge of the ammunition store.

    But she never forgot her journalistic ambitions from school days.

    Prize days in those years were held at the Grand Hotel, Folkestone, and she was always intrigued by the appearance of a woman reporter at these functions.

    She joined the Kentish Express and her first story was the fire that destroyed Folkestone pier.

    With a cramped office in Ashford High Street she quickly made a name for herself with her prolific output of stories and she was promoted to chief reporter.

    When the company moved to South Ashford, she became editor of the Tuesday Express and news editor of the Kentish Express.

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