Victim Support volunteer celebrates royal honour at Buckingham Palace garden party

Wiltshire based Victim Support volunteer Francis Wakem recently attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace to celebrate being awarded the British Empire Medal as part of the 2019 New Year’s Honours List.

The retired Chief Superintendent from Devizes has worked as a Victim Support volunteer for over 30 years in Wiltshire and in that time has raised over £150,000 for the charity.

Francis Wakem, Volunteer at Victim Support Wiltshire, said: “I’ve been associated with Victim Support in Wiltshire since it was formed in 1988. When I retired from the police, I became Chairman of the board of trustees at Victim Support for ten years and have continued my work since then.

“I wanted to get involved because throughout my career in the police the focus had always been on the perpetrator and the victim was often forgotten, so I wanted to get involved in supporting victims of crime.

“My British Empire Medal was presented to me earlier this year at a beautiful and very personal ceremony at Salisbury cathedral with other local people who were also being recognised for their services.

“My wife and I were then invited to Buckingham Palace for a garden party to celebrate. The weather was glorious with beautiful sunshine and it was a marvellous opportunity to wonder round the beautiful gardens. Several members of the Royal Family were present and I saw the Queen herself as well as Prince William and Kate. It was wonderful and I consider myself to be very privileged.

Alongside all his work with Victims Support, Mr. Wakem has also supported several other charities in the area.

“For around 16 years I did a lot of fundraising for Swindon Women’s Refuge; I was a founding trustee and first treasurer of the Wiltshire Bobby Van Trust which helps to provide home security for vulnerable and elderly residents across Wiltshire. I have also served as a trustee and chair of the Board of Splitz Support Service, a charity delivering support services to adults and young people experiencing the trauma of domestic abuse and sexual violence.  In my spare time, I served as Chairman of the Wiltshire Scout Council and am presently a Vice President of the Scout Council.

“Whilst I am passionate about the work of Victim Support, I recognise that we cannot work in isolation and acknowledge the importance of working with other agencies, which is why working with and alongside other organisations is so important to me.

“In my time at Victim Support I’ve learnt so much about the impact of crime on the individual, domestic abuse and hate crime in particular. I’ve seen a lot of change over the years and I feel that people are getting more confident in reporting to the police.

“My aim has always been – and always will be – to get the best outcome for victims and witnesses of crime and for people who have suffered as a result of traumatic events and other forms of harmful behaviour.

“The enjoyment – or perhaps my personal fulfillment – is knowing that as a member of a team of dedicated and caring staff and volunteers I have been able to contribute in a small way to securing the best outcome for the individual concerned.

Contract Manager for Wiltshire Wayne Stevens said: “Francis’ expertise and commitment, and his unerring focus on improving the experience of victims and witnesses, means that he leaves an impact on people and organisations that will last long beyond the moment when he finally hangs up his volunteering badge.”

He continued: “Our volunteers are an integral part of our team. They all receive specialist training to enable them to support those affected by crime to begin to rebuild their lives.

“Crime can have a devastating impact and the fallout can be stressful and overwhelming. We know from speaking to thousands of victims of crime every year that it can be difficult to talk about what’s happened or to ask for help and our volunteers are a real lifeline for people, when they need it most.”

Victim Support is an independent charity that provides practical help and emotional support to victims and witnesses or all crimes, whether or not they have reported to the police.

If you’re interested in volunteering with Victim Support you can call 01380 738878 or email – [email protected]