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John Monk MBE - 'Heart' of the community.

John Monk receives the MBEA MAN who has been described as the heart of Sutton-on-Sea has been awarded an MBE in the Queen's New Year Honours List. John Monk received the award for providing more than 30 years of hard work and dedication to Sutton-on-Sea.

In 1965, John was one of a group of teenagers who set up a club for youngsters in Sutton-on-Sea. The Meridale Youth and Community Centre is still going strong. John has spent years developing it into the focal point of the community.

"Meridale started as a youth club, which was unique for its time because it was run by the young people themselves - and it still stands by that principle. It was started by eight or nine of us and I just stayed on over the years. The centre is now staffed by young people aged between 12 and 19 years old, with young people represented in the local groups. It was never a conscious decision for me to be doing what I do now." (John Monk)

John is married to Maureen they have two sons and a grandson. Maureen is very much involved in Centre and the Horticultural Society.

Not only is John manager of the centre, he is also chairman of the crime prevention panel and the horticultural society. He organises the local festival, is a qualified youth worker and runs a number of clubs for Sutton-on-Sea residents of all ages.

"The award is for my community work over the last 30-plus years based at Meridale and with young people. When I first heard about the MBE, I thought I was too young to be awarded with one... Then it was disbelief.. . I didn't think it was real or that it was for me and it took a little while for it to sink it. I am immensely proud of the centre because over the last 36 years everybody in Sutton-on-Sea has had some involvement in it. The centre used to be my hobby, and work was work. But now my work is my hobby and it takes up most of my time because I love the centre. Over the 36 years we have grown together." (John Monk)

John. Monk was nominated by local residents Tony and Cath Upton.