Pair get Queen’s birthday honours

Chairman of SSAFA Sussex, Alan Tait is awarded an MBE for voluntary services to the ex-service community. Pic Steve Robards  SR1616918 SUS-160614-114940001
Chairman of SSAFA Sussex, Alan Tait is awarded an MBE for voluntary services to the ex-service community. Pic Steve Robards SR1616918 SUS-160614-114940001

Two Crawley people have received awards in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Alan Tait, 68, was awarded an MBE for voluntary services to the ex-service community and Sarah Gates, a Sussex Police mental health liaison officer at Crawley Police Station, got an OBE for services to people suffering from mental ill health.

Mr Tait, of Buckswood Drive, of Gossops Green, has played a prominent role within the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) for the last 16 years. He is chairman of the charity’s Sussex branch, which raises more than £500,000 to provide financial and practical support former members of the armed forces in more than 900 cases per year. He was introduced to SSAFA Crawley by Ron Cornwell, a fellow magistrate at Crawley Magistrates’ Court, having served in the Army in The Gordon Highlanders. The cabinet office said Mr Tait, who was the chairman of Sussex (Northern) Local Justice Area, pursued his difficult role in the merger of SAAFA’s West Sussex and East Sussex branches in 2002 with ‘remakable diligence, diplomacy and perserverance’. His efforts have seen the Sussex branch regularly placed in the top four branches in the country, said a cabinet office spokesman. He also created the Trefoil fund to speed up the process of supporting those in need and has served as Crawley Hub Chairman for the ABF The Soldier’s Charity since 2013.

Mr Tait said: “I know it sounds very cliche - we’ve a lot of very, very good people, all volunteers, throughout Sussex and Crawley as well, and we all work together very well and we all contribute.”

He said his best moment with SSAFA was when his branch was presented the Queens Award for Voluntary Service in July 2015.

Sarah Gates has been at the forefront in delivering programmes such as placing nurses to work in police custody, street triage, provision of places of safety and a review of the Mental Health Codes of Practice, Sussex Police said. Chief Constable Giles York said she was “an individual who has gone above and beyond to make the experiences for those suffering mental health crises significantly better.”