THE chief executive of Somerset Community Foundation has been made an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.

Justin Sargent receives the honour announced today (Saturday) for services to the community in Somerset.

Mr Sargent said: “It is deeply humbling to have been awarded such an honour.

"It has been the privilege of my life to have led Somerset Community Foundation (SCF) for the past 16 years.

"However, the success of the foundation is truly a collective effort, and I would like this honour to be viewed as a reflection of the care, compassion and dedication of everyone who has been involved with the foundation.

“I work with an exceptional team of staff, trustees and volunteers, but we can only continue to make the difference we make thanks to the very generous support of our donors and funders and the commitment of our local voluntary groups, who all help to change the world on their doorsteps every day.

"Never has this been more apparent than during the coronavirus pandemic, when local charities and volunteers have gone above and beyond for those in need.

"It is the unrelenting desire of our communities to make Somerset a better place for all that I feel is reflected in this award."

SCF chairman Jane Barrie said: “The trustees of SCF are absolutely delighted that Justin has been honoured in this way.

"He is a man of very special qualities who gives far more to Somerset beyond his role as CEO of the foundation.

"He is passionate about doing the best for the disadvantaged and vulnerable in our communities, and in crises such as those posed by the Somerset floods of 2013/2014 and the coronavirus outbreak, he has worked well above the call of duty to help provide funding and leadership to the voluntary and community sector.”

Mr Sargent joined SCF in 2005, bringing with him considerable experience in community development and grant-making, having previously worked with small non-governmental organisations in Lesotho in Africa, and on environmental and social initiatives in the UK.

Since SCF was founded in 2002, it has awarded more than £16million in funding, changing thousands of lives across Somerset, and most recently awarded more than £1.5m worth of grants in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Sargent leads a team of 12, delivering more than £2m of funding to Somerset communities every year.

In 2017 he was awarded a postgraduate diploma in voluntary sector management from CASS Business School, and in 2018 he joined the board of trustees at the Nelson Trust.