Kenilworth councillor ‘flattered’ and ‘honoured’ to receive MBE

Cllr Michael Coker addressing a crowd at the annual Duck Race during his time as Kenilworth's mayor. NNL-151226-162617009
Cllr Michael Coker addressing a crowd at the annual Duck Race during his time as Kenilworth's mayor. NNL-151226-162617009

A long-time councillor from Kenilworth is ‘flattered’ and ‘honoured’ to have been named as an MBE in the New Year’s Honours list.

Cllr Michael Coker, who has served Abbey ward on Warwick District Council and Kenilworth Town Council for many years, was given the prestigious award for ‘services to the community in Warwickshire’.

He said the news was a great surprise to start 2018.

He added: “I’m very flattered and very honoured - it was completely unexpected. I thought I’d got to an age where that sort of thing had long gone.

“We got a letter around the end of November from the Cabinet Office - I thought ‘why are the Cabinet Office writing to me? Has Kenilworth become important?’

“But the letter said this had been decided and asked if I would accept it, and of course, I did.”

Now 82 years old, Cllr Coker, of Elmbank Road, was first elected to the district council in 1976, and has stayed on the council since then apart from a time between 1995 and 1999.

During that time, he chaired the committees which helped build swimming pools in Kenilworth, Leamington and Warwick, which he cites as among his greatest achievements.

He said: “It was very rewarding, and absolutely great fun. At the moment I’m in charge of improving the pools in Leamington and Warwick, which is rather wonderful, because we’re refurbishing and enhancing the ones that were built 30 years ago.”

He was also proud of helping to get funding for St Augustine’s School to be built while he was a school governor, and leading the campaign to fund and build St Francis of Assisi Church in Warwick Road.

Cllr Coker also served as Warwickshire’s deputy coroner for eight years and main coroner for 17 years until retiring in 2007.

Referring to this part of his career, Cllr Coker said: “I would like to think it was taken into account.

“That’s a very important role as far as I’m concerned. You can do a lot of good for people in a sensitive situation.”

Cllr Coker has also been a trustee at the Williams Edwards Educational Charity for a number of years, and is currently its chairman.

The charity awards grants to help Kenilworth schools with projects and to Kenilworth residents who need help to fund their children’s education.

Examples of the charity’s work include awarding a grant worth £60,000 to Priors Field Primary School to build a new library.

He felt his work with the charity may have helped contribute to him becoming an MBE.

Cllr Coker said: “It’s quite a worthy charity and it designates a lot of money in the town. It doesn’t get enough recognition.”

When asked what the future holds for him, Cllr Coker said he was not likely to run for re-election to the district council in 18 month’s time, but he thought he would stand for the town council again.