MBE honour for former Standard reporter

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A former Lincolnshire Standard reporter has been recognised in the New Year Honours for his role with the world’s most remote inhabited 
island.

Christopher Bates, 66, is to be made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to Tristan da Cunha interests in the UK and worldwide.

Spalding-born Chris left school in Grimsby at 16 to become a junior reporter on the Lincolnshire Standard at Boston. He would later work in newspaper offices in Skegness, Grimsby, Barton-on-Humber and Brigg, before moving to the Lancashire Evening Telegraph in Blackburn in 1967.

He said he has ‘very happy memories’ of his time at The Standard and frequently returns to Skegness through his involvement with the Lincolnshire Coast Light Railway.

His role with Tristan da Cunha, which lies roughly half-way between South Africa and South America, came after he joined the staff of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in London in the mid-90s to work on a public relations programme.

At the embassy, he came to know several people on the island where a Norwegian team had completed the first geological survey in 1938.

He maintained the links and in 2005 was asked to edit the first book to be written by a Tristan islander, Rockhopper Copper, by its only full-time policeman.

Accepting an invitation to visit the island – a seven-week journey – Chris was approached about being the islanders’ representative in the UK and agreed to take on the unpaid job.

The role has seen him work closely with Tristan’s Conservation Department, with The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and conservation departments in the British Overseas Territories, and on one occasion meet with the Prime Minister.

He has represented Tristan at meetings in New Caledonia (South Pacific), Greenland, Ascension Island, Cayman Islands, Brussels, Corsica and the South of France, Isle of Man, The Netherlands and throughout the UK, as well as at state occasions, including the State Opening of Parliament, the funeral of Baroness Thatcher and The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations.

Chris stepped down from the role on New Year’s Day.

He said he was ‘absolutely thrilled’ to receive the MBE, but credited his family and the Tristan islanders with playing a vital part in him achieving the honour.