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Trader rewarded for dedication to town
A GREENGROCER who has devoted decades to Darlington and its markets has been presented with the British Empire Medal (BEM).
Robin Blair, who has worked on his family’s grocery stall, JJ Blair and Sons in the Darlington’s covered market for more than 50 years, was presented with his BEM by Sir Paul Nicholson, Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, on behalf of the queen.
Kingsley Smith, clerk to the Lord Lieutenant, read the citation which paid tribute to Mr Blair’s tireless dedication to Darlington, its markets and local traders.
Speaking after the presentation, the 67-year-old who is also vice-chairman of the Darlington Retail Market Stalls Association, said: "It was one of the most honourable times of my life.
“I am very proud but I am just doing what I love, and the thing I love most about Darlington is the people - they are wonderful."
He was joined at the ceremony by his wife, Alwyn, daughter Alyson, grandchildren Louise and Jamie, and his wife, Joanne.
Mrs Blair said: “We are very proud of him. It is a family business and we support Robin in whatever he does.
“He works so hard and only takes one week off as holiday every year. He went to work before this ceremony and he is going back to work after it’s finished.”
Darlington Mayor Paul Baldwin said: “This award recognises his lifetime commitment to the town and its people and he thoroughly deserves it.”
The BEM was stopped in 1993 by then Prime Minister John Major but revived this year by David Cameron to recognise “the dedication and hard work so many provide to their communities.”