The man who helped to keep alive the important work of South Shields Sea Cadets has been recognised in the Queen’s New Year Honours.
John Eltringham, 60, will receive an MBE for voluntary service to young people, after his tireless work to help promote the work of the organisation.
Mr Eltringham is chairman of trustees for the sea cadets, and has been for the past 17 years - having previously been president.
Mr Eltringham saved the unit from closure by raising over £140,000 to refurbish its run-down building and then raised a further £60,000 to refurbish the unit’s boating fleet through the provision of new boats, and spare parts.
Not only that but the dad-of-two has devoted thousands of hours to the maintenance of the unit’s craft.
He has helped many hundreds of cadets to develop waterborne skills as well as grow in confidence and develop key personal skills.
Over the past two years, and through his own initiative, he raised £67,000 to purchase a wheely boat to allow mobility-impaired children to enjoy waterborne activity alongside their more able peers.
That placed South Shields Sea Cadets at the forefront of community inclusion.
He has gifted use of his wheely boat to adult paraplegic groups, BLESMA and Help for Heroes.
Separate from the Sea Cadets, for the past 27 years he has organised a 40-boat sailing regatta in the Lake District with the money raised going to local causes.
Mr Eltringham, who is married to Jane with whom he has son Joseph and daughter Helen, said: “This has taken me completely by surprise, but it is wonderful news.
“You feel unworthy because there are so many special people who are given these honours. All I feel that I do is sort out the fund-raising.”
Mr Eltringham, who is a project director for a shipping company, was a sea scout in his younger days, but on seeing the Sea Cadet Band perform at a charity event he had organised several years ago, he has helped out with the group ever since.
“I saw the band play and thought they were just marvellous,” he said.
“It captivated me and decided to get involved with their work.
“When you see some of the children who join up at age 10, but the time they are 18 the transformation is amazing.
“It really is life-changing.”
When asked about visiting Buckingham Palace in London to be given his honour next year, he said: “I think everybody is nervous ahead of things like this, but I’m really looking forward to it.”