FAMILY tragedy was the spur that led a west Dorset man to dedicate more than 30 years to raising money for a blood cancer charity.
In recognition of his work Richard Delderfield, from Thorncombe, received an MBE medal from Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace.
Mr Delderfield, from Thorncombe, volunteered for Bloodwise after losing his teenage son, Paul, to leukaemia in 1985. He'd also lost his mother to the disease when he was only a teenager himself.
He was awarded the MBE for services to his local community as well as the charity, which changed its name from Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research in 2015.
Mr Delderfield, 74, who is honorary president of the national charity, was a member of its board of trustees for more than 20 years and served as its vice chairman between 2007 and 2013, as well as acting as chairman for a time. He joined the Yeovil and district voluntary branch of the charity in 1987 and later became the branch’s chairman.
As a teenager he lost his mother to leukaemia when she was just 42. His son Paul was first diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia in October 1984. He had just started sixth form and was interested in pursuing a career in nature photography and film. Despite intensive treatment, the disease returned and Paul passed away in August 1985 at the age of 17.
Richard was accompanied to Buckingham Palace by three guests – his wife Angela, their daughter Lucy - who had flown over from her home in Australia for the occasion, and Cathy Gilman – the chief executive of Bloodwise during Richard’s time as vice-chairman, who had championed his nomination for the award.
Richard said: “It is the strangest of feelings, a bit like going for an important job interview, or those days and hours before you get married, but with a great deal more humility.
“Nothing can prepare you for the grandness of everything inside the Palace. My guests were led to the ballroom where the Investiture was to take place, while I joined the other recipients for a briefing about the day. We were called out in groups of about 15 and led through long impressive rooms to the edge of the ballroom. We were lined up rather like ‘standing in the wings’ of a theatre, from where I was able to see my guests.
“When Prince Charles asked me how much money had been raised and how much progress had been made, my response to the latter was “Sir, how much time do you have?” – and I went on to say 'I know that my son Paul’s death was not in vain'.
“My abiding memory of the day has to be the dozens of palace staff, from policemen at the gate to the guard’s officer guiding you to the dais, everyone you met spoke with kindness, congratulations and made you feel an important and individual part of the day – you could almost have been the only person getting an award that day. Thirty two years ago, our son Paul died of Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, aged 17. He would have been the proudest of sons to have been at The Palace.”
Richard continues to fundraise and help in the charity in any way he can.