When Vince Wedlock-Ward found out he was to receive a MBE he thought someone was playing a practical joke.
The Southern Housing Group Projects Officer, based on the Isle of Wight, was recognised in the Queen’s New Year honours list, receiving a MBE for services to disadvantaged households and the environment.
Vince initially thought the official letter informing him of the honour was a “wind-up” from his contacts within the Department of Energy and Climate Change. It wasn’t until he called the Cabinet Office and received confirmation he was a recipient that he dared to believe it.
“I was shocked for a couple of days and it’s still taking time to sink in,” he said. “I’m proud of it, I really am. I don’t do what I do for any other reason than the fact I believe in it, so it was quite a surprise.”
During the last two years Vince has secured nearly two million pounds in grant funding for the Group which has been used to introduce sustainable energy sources for residents on the Island. This has included installing solar thermals and panels, outsource heating pumps, and LED lights.
Vince’s dedication to sustainability has also seen three Group residents, believed to be the first in the country, undergo home energy assessor training. The Level 3 Diploma was introduced in 2010 and once their training is completed the residents will be qualified assessors.
“It’s my dream for a resident in every parish on the Isle of Wight to be trained as home energy advisors so other residents can call them to get energy advice,” said Vince.
Vince has also been heavily involved in the successful Chale Green project on the Island which saw 67 residents’ homes fitted with air source pumps and solar PV panels in an effort to reduce fuel cost and carbon emissions. Water saving devices were installed to reduce residents’ water bills as well as providing practical energy saving advice.
The initiative was run in partnership with local residents, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the FootprintTrust and Island 2000. Its achievements were recognised by a prestigious gold Green Apple Environment Award, which Vince collected at a ceremony at the House of Commons.
Southern Housing Group Chief Executive, Tom Dacey, said: “To have received a MBE on the New Year’s honours list is an outstanding achievement for Vince and one that is richly deserved. Vince has been instrumental in ensuring the success of the Group’s sustainability projects on the Island and this award is a reflection of his ongoing commitment and dedication to the environment.”
Vince will be presented with his award from The Queen or a member of the Royal family during an Investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace later this year.