Weston-super-Mare Grand Pier owners appointed MBEs
The owners of Weston-super-Mare’s Grand Pier have been presented with honours by the Princess Royal.
Kerry and Michelle Michael were appointed MBEs in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
They were among hundreds of people whose achievements were given recognition by Princess Anne at an investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle on Thursday.
The brother and sister business partners were granted the accolade for services to restoration of the seafront attraction after a devastating fire destroyed the pavilion in July 2008.
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They were praised for their commitment to rebuilding the landmark and protecting the town from an economic downturn.
The pier re-opened in October 2010 after a £51 million rebuild and now attracts 3.5 million visitors each year.
Mr Michael said: “Our visit to Windsor Castle to collect our MBEs was an amazing experience and one that we will always treasure.
“Having our immediate family members with us to enjoy this incredible day made it even more special.
“This fantastic honour is recognition for everyone who was involved in the redesign, building and re-opening of the Grand Pier in record time, and we were delighted to go to Windsor Castle to collect this honour on their behalf from Princess Anne.
“We would like to express our sincere thanks to everyone involved in the regeneration of the Grand Pier, as well as our family and friends or their incredible support.”
The setting up by the Michaels of the Axentis Michael Trust, which has donated thousands of pounds to local charities, was also highlighted in the award.
Mr Michael said: “To be recognised and honoured for our work in rebuilding the Grand Pier is very humbling and was completely unexpected.
“After the fire the main aim was to get the Grand Pier up and running as soon as possible.
“It is an iconic landmark and has huge importance for the whole town.”
Honours were also presented to businessman Colin Skellett, the Rev Cyril Grant and Captain Christopher Skidmore. Mr Skellett, chairman of the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership and Wessex Water, received an OBE for services to business and to the charity WaterAid.
Mr Grant received an OBE for his services to the Samaritans in Bristol.
He helped found the organisation’s branch in Bristol and has been volunteering there for nearly 50 years.
Capt Skidmore received an OBE for his service in the Royal Navy.
Other notable figures at yesterday’s investiture ceremony included songwriter, lyricist and television presenter Sir Richard Stilgoe, knighted for his extensive charity work; athletics coach Malcolm Arnold, awarded an OBE for his lifetime’s sporting achievement; and Will Travers, chief executive of the animal conservation charity Born Free Foundation, also awarded an OBE.
He is the son of actors Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, who started the foundation after their lifelong commitment to animal welfare was sparked when they starred in the 1966 movie Born Free.