Saffron Screen cinema co-founder “very proud” to be given MBE in Queen’s Birthday Honours List

Peter Riding

Peter Riding - Credit: Archant

SAFFRON Screen co-founder and community stalwart Peter Riding has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Peter Riding pops open the champagne back in May 2010 after Stop Stansted Expansion were victorious

Peter Riding pops open the champagne back in May 2010 after Stop Stansted Expansion were victorious in their battle against a second runway at the Uttlesford airport. - Credit: Archant

The 71-year-old, of Castle Street, Saffron Walden, received an MBE for his services to the community, having moved to the town from London 13 years ago.

A former TV producer for the BBC, Mr Riding spoke of his shock at being honoured, telling the Reporter he was “very proud”.

“I received a letter in the post saying I might be given an MBE and, if so, would I accept it,” he said. “I was shocked and had no idea I had been nominated – my first reaction was I don’t want this!

“Then I thought about all the organisations I’ve been part of and the hard-working people who have made a difference to people’s quality of life. This is recognition for them, too, I’m just the figurehead.”

Mr Riding, who has one son and two grandchildren, has been chairman of the Saffron Walden Initiative for 10 years and is also the chairman of the town’s independent cinema, Saffron Screen, based at the County High School.

He has been involved in the organising of the Saffron Walden Maze festival and played a key role in the founding of campaign group Stop Stansted Expansion (SSE).

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Brian Ross, SSE economic adviser and a good friend of Mr Riding, said: “Peter has worked selflessly on behalf of the local community and in trying to protect our local environment and heritage. It is absolutely fitting that he has been awarded this honour.”

SSE chairman Peter Saunders told the Reporter “no one could deserve the honour more”.

“Others will speak of Peter’s amazing community work in Saffron Walden but he also took the lead in founding Stop Stansted Expansion in 2002. It is entirely appropriate that the iconic photo of our celebrations in 2010, when BAA withdrew its application for a second runway at Stansted, should have been of Peter uncorking a bottle of champagne!

“His imagination and flair have given our campaign a real cutting edge, and his cheerfulness and buoyancy have inspired us throughout.”

Saffron Screen programming and business manager, Rebecca del Tufo, was “delighted” to hear of Mr Riding’s recognition.

She said: “It is hugely well deserved. Peter has been a lynch pin of Saffron Screen from day one and we wouldn’t be here without him. I shall be curtseying to him at all times now!”

Mr Riding’s community work began just over a month after he moved to the area. He went to a meeting of the Castle Street Residents Association, where members happened to be looking for a new chairman, and has held the role ever since.

He added: “I am delighted and honoured to have been given an MBE. It is a fantastic feeling.”