Charity: Reward for former soldier who fought his way back from a life on the streets


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The Independent Online

Jimmy Carlson has come a long way since he began what would turn into a 23-year descent into alcoholism and homelessness in 1973. Nearly 16 years after finally turning his life around and devoting it to help others in a similar position to that in which he found himself after leaving the Armed Forces, he has been recognised with an OBE for services to homeless people.

Mr Carlson, 64, spent nearly a quarter of a century homeless or living in hostels after his discharge. But, since 1996, he has worked to help thousands of homeless people to transform their lives like he did.

"You would have walked over me in the street 15 years ago and thought I was a lost cause, just another drunk," he said yesterday, adding that he was "humbled" to receive the honour.

"I have been to the very bottom and never would have imagined this day then. Lots of people have helped me on the way and I can only hope my story can inspire others. Rough sleepers you see on the street today – with the right support they have a lot to offer too. Never give up on anyone."

Geoffrey Hopkinson, was awarded a British Empire Medal for services to beekeeping. This year's birthday honours saw the re-introduction of the award, often described as the "working-class gong". It has been revived by David Cameron in a reversal of John Major's decision to scrap it because it clashed with the idea of a "classless society".

Lord Archer's wife Dr Mary Archer, left, a champion of patient care and safety, has been made a Dame, while Lady Meyer, wife of former British Ambassador to the United States Sir Christopher Meyer, was appointed CBE for services to children and families.

Appointed MBE for services to the restoration of Weston-super-Mare pier are brother and sister Kerry and Michelle Michael, who bought the pier in February 2008, only for it to be gutted by fire months later. It has now re-opened after a £51m investment.