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John Williams from Morcott awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in New Year

A man who has helped thousands of people access and enjoy the countryside has been recognised in the New Year Honours List.

John Williams from Morcott has been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) ‘for services to conservation and to the community in Rutland’.

A member of Rutland Ramblers for many years, he created the ‘Rutland Round’, a collection of signposted paths that together form a 70-mile route all the way around the county.

John and Trisha Williams with the special gift presented by Rutland Ramblers, crafted to resemble a waymarker from the Rutland Round
John and Trisha Williams with the special gift presented by Rutland Ramblers, crafted to resemble a waymarker from the Rutland Round

To do this he worked with Rutland County Council’s footpaths officer, the Campaign for Rural England and Anglian Water, as well as having local ramblers test his written and illustrated guide.

The Rutland Round opened in April 2000 and was accompanied by The Rutland Round, John’s guide book that has sold more than 2,000 copies and is into its third print run.

Thanks to this, word about the new long-distance footpath spread and the walking boots of rambling groups and other walkers helped keep the undergrowth cleared and the paths accessible.

Tricia and John Williams
Tricia and John Williams

In his 80s, John retired from the role of volunteer footpaths officer for the ramblers and was presented in 2020 with a wooden memento shaped like the top of a waymarker and finished with a disc badge matching those used on the Rutland Round.

John was a headteacher during his working life and he and his wife Tricia moved to her family’s home village of Morcott in 1994. Both played an active role in local life and John was church warden.

John Pitts, chairman of Rutland Ramblers, said: “No-one has done more for public access to our county’s beautiful countryside over the last 25 years than John.

“This award for all his voluntary work is richly deserved.”

The Rutland Round book
The Rutland Round book

Speaking after the announcement of the award, John said he was surprised to have received a letter to tell him that he was named in the honours list.

“I was also quite surprised, having spoken to some of my walking group friends, to learn that this had been in their minds before covid," he added.

“I’m very pleased that I have been given the award because I am sure there are a lot of other people who are also doing the right thing for the countryside.”

John Williams’ The Rutland Round is available in Walkers bookshop branches in Stamford and Oakham.

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