Monday, March 27, 2023

Grays founder of charity and journalist awarded MBE

A THURROCK man who has been the founder and driving force behind a charity dedicated to helping children afflicted by a life-changing syndrome has been awarded an MBE.
Aerospace expert Alan Peaford, of Lodge Lane, Grays, received his award for services to people with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome and their families.
His daughter, Victoria, was born in 1985 but it was some months before the fact that she suffered from the syndrome illness was recognised. She had the characteristic small hands and feet and suffered from reflux, a common but rarely serious condition in babies when the stomach contents come back up into the gullet or into the mouth. but there was not thought to be any major problems with her health.
But at eight months, a routine check by a health visitor changed all that and she urged Alan to have Victoria examined to find the cause of her problem.
“It was a completely normal pregnancy. She was smaller than our other two children had been at birth,” said Alan. “Our GP said he did not know what to do and suggested that we went to Great Ormond Street Hospital and that my wife should cry until somebody agreed to see us as they did not usually take walk-in cases. So we did that and she was diagnosed.”
Victoria survived and is now in her late twenties, and has motivated her father to spend much of his life working to help others in similar circumstances.
“Luckily Victoria is at the mild end of the CdLS spectrum and although she has certain autistic tendencies, she does not, like many of the children have upper limbs missing.
“We understand how difficult it must be for the parents whose children are most profoundly affected.”
He founded the People with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome Foundation and his charitable work has gone far beyond that, supporting many local good causes in Thurrock and serving as chair and governor at Treetops School in Grays.
A journalist, businessman and entrepreneur Mr Peaford, 60, has enjoyed a long and successful career in the aerospace and publishing industries. As well as founding his own business Aerocomm Ltd, still based in Grays, Alan is the editor-in-chief of the Arabian Aerospace magazine and online news service, the region’s B2B specialist magazine.
He is a five-times winner of Aerospace Journalist of the Year awards for his work with Flight International, Airline Business, and India’s SP Aviation.
Having started his career as an actor, he entered the world of journalism through local newspapers and radio before working for national daily newspapers. In 1978 he was named the Foreign Correspondent of the Year for a series of Middle East articles published in the Sunday Times. He edited newspapers in the UK and Middle East including the Arab Times in Kuwait and the Gulf Daily News in Bahrain before taking a communications management role with oil company BP. In 1988 he was appointed managing director at the Charles Barker public relations and advertising agency and two years later headed a buyout of the company’s publishing division creating Trident Communications – which became the UK’s largest corporate publishing and communications agency with offices throughout the UK, Munich, New York, Dubai and Singapore.
In 1992 he was awarded a European Diploma of Honour for services to workplace communications and in 1995 was elected President of FEIEA, the European industrial editors association – a post he held for eight years.
In 2002 he became a ‘special advisor’ to the British Government working alongside a communications team at 10 Downing Street.
He is now President of the Institute of Internal Communications – the UK and Ireland’s professional association for business and industry communications.
He has written speeches for the heads of state or members of the royal families of the UK and Dubai and for industry leaders in the Middle East, the US and the UK.
In 2009, in conjunction with the Times Group of London, he combined his love of the Middle East with his passion for aviation and launched Arabian Aerospace, a B2B magazine for the rapidly expanding industry in the MENA region and is an active Editor-in-chief.
He is also an enthusiastic private pilot.
Even in the days before his award was made public, Mr Peaford, an enthusiastic Rotarian, was still working for good causes, acting as compere for the Rotary club of Grays Thurrock’s annual Christmas Concert.
Rotary colleague, fellow governor and friend Laurie Rampling paid tribute to Mr Peaford, saying: “He is an infectious romantic with the determination and desire to get the job done whatever the cause.
“His selfless work within the community has been second to none.
“Not the least at Treetops where I worked alongside him as a Governor. His inspiration as Governor, then Chairman of Governors was pivotal in the move, improvement and establishment of what is now recognised as one of the finest examples of excellence in special education in the United Kingdom.
“This is a much-deserved recognition for a ‘selfless man of our time’.”


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