Page last updated at 02:13 GMT, Thursday, 31 December 2009

MBE honour for Sussex businessman

Timothy French (Pic: South Downs Living)
Mr French said all his voluntary work was to encourage young people

A businessman who has devoted his spare time to helping young people has been made an MBE.

Timothy French, 71, has been a youth worker, a sports coach, a magistrate, and is now a community events promoter.

His roles have been varied but he said all his work has been aimed at encouraging young people in his home town of Haywards Heath, West Sussex.

Mr French, who has lived in the town all his life, said: "It's the way I am. I just like to be busy."

He said: "Basically it's to encourage young people. It's all about young people in the town, particularly after leaving school - to keep them interested."

Street festivals

In 1962, he formed two youth clubs in the town, and four years later set up the Haywards Heath Harriers - known for developing athlete Daley Thompson.

As a sports coach, Mr French ran the club for 15 years, and is still its vice president.

He went on to set up his own joinery firm which will be in its 40th year next year.

For 20 years, he took on the added voluntary work of being a magistrate, specialising in juvenile cases.

Since 2001, his joinery firm has sponsored It's Magic, a not-for-profit organisation set up by Mr French to run concerts, street festivals and other community events in Haywards Heath, some of which feature young bands from the area.

Mr French, who is still working full-time in addition to his voluntary work, was made an MBE for services to the community in Haywards Heath.

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