Published: Monday, 12th October 2020
It has been announced that Cllr Stuart Dark, borough councillor for Heacham Ward, has received the Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in Her Majesty the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
The award recognises his ‘service to the community of Snettisham’ which included devising and leading the village’s ambitious and highly successful WW1 100th Anniversary commemoration that received national coverage.
Cllr Stuart Dark said: “I am absolutely delighted and very humbled by this award.
“We have a very strong sense of community locally and it was our intention to try and do something relevant, inspiring and worthy of our fallen villagers and their families great sacrifice 100 years on.
“This recognition, which I see as owned by the whole of Snettisham, as everyone played their own considerable part, acknowledges together we achieved just that.
“I hope that our story touches and inspires others to do their own 'big thing', as one thing we learnt as we went along was how much even a small community can achieve with a united focus and will.”
Leader of the borough council, Cllr Brian Long, commented: “I’m pleased to see this honour bestowed on Cllr Dark. He personally undertook over 500 hours researching the schooling, lives, jobs and families of the 45 ‘fallen’ on the village’s war memorial to make them ‘real’ people once more.”
This task included planning visits to each of the 45’s resting places with a coach of villagers, the majority of these were spread across Europe, although also included a trip to Canada where Cllr Dark was joined by the mounties and the Royal Canadian Air Force to honour an RAF pilot.
The community got involved and raised £18.5k for the Royal British Legion and Scotty’s Little Soldiers in honour of their ‘fallen’ 45.
Cllr Long continued: “More recently, having appointed him as Cabinet Member for Emergency Planning and Covid-19 response, I have seen the great commitment and attention to detail that Stuart gives to everything he is part of and am delighted to see this formal recognition for his work in Snettisham.”
Mayor of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk, Cllr Geoff Hipperson, said: “In the comparatively short while I have known Councillor Stuart Dark I have been very impressed by his work on the borough council, particularly during the Covid crisis.
“I am also aware of his commitment to the local community and I am delighted to be able to congratulate Stuart on receiving this award which I am sure is well deserved.”
James Wild, MP for North West Norfolk, said: “This award is incredibly well-deserved recognition for Stuart’s efforts in bringing the community of Snettisham together to go the extra mile to remember the Fallen 45 from the village. With this project Stuart demonstrated the enthusiasm and drive which characterises his efforts in his council and other roles.”
When Coronavirus restrictions are relaxed Cllr Dark is looking forward to attending an Investiture at either Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle. This is likely to take place next year.