Tees

Darlington grocer Robin Blair gets British Empire Medal

A campaigning greengrocer is among those recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.

Robin Blair, 67, a grocer for more than 50 years, is to receive a British Empire Medal for his services to the community of Darlington.

Also to receive the medal will be John Hinchcliffe for services to the community of Barnard Castle.

Audrey Lloyd, of Redcar, will also be awarded the medal for her dedication to the people of the Whale Hill community.

Mr Blair runs JJ Blair & Sons with his brother Keith and the business has been in the town's covered market for more than 140 years.

Over the years, he has campaigned to keep markets alive and campaigned against too many supermarkets taking away their trade.

'Feel humble'

He joined his father John Joseph's stall officially at the age of 15, but had helped out on it since he was seven.

"I'm passionate about my job - I love the vibrancy of markets and meeting so many different people," he said.

"Supermarkets have their place but markets and independent traders are part of the community and we must ensure they are enjoyed for generations to come."

Mr Blair said one of the highlights of his job was putting free fruit baskets in the actors' dressing rooms at Darlington Theatre and receiving notes of thanks.

He said: "Ken Dodd has sent me a few notes over the years, which is lovely. It is all about personal service."

Mr Blair, who is married to Alwyn, 72, and has a daughter Alison, 45, added: "I feel very humble and proud to receive this honour."