A SURPRISE phonecall on New YearÕs Eve made sure that a Whitehill manÕs new year started off on the right note.

Paul Cox, of St Andrews Road, was gearing up for 2003 at a street party, which he organised, when his commanding officer rang to tell him that he had been awarded an MBE in the New Years Honours List.

The REME (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) warrant officer class two, who is based in Bulford, Wiltshire, told The Herald that he was overjoyed to receive the award.

ÒI found out that I got my MBE on New YearÕs Eve,Ó Mr Cox said.

ÒI am over the moon and my wife, Jacqueline, is over the moon. My wife thought it was the call to go to the Gulf.Ó

Mr Cox, who has a daughter Rebecca, 8, was honoured for a variety of charity and fundraising work that he has undertaken both in Bordon and across Europe.

ÒAt the end of 1999 I went to Bosnia and Kosovo to do two different projects,Ó he said.

ÒWe had some things collected by Bordon County Infants School to take over to Kosovo. They were things like desks, chairs and old school sweat shirts. We were renovating a school that was in a pretty poor condition when we went over there.

ÒWe went on to Bosnia and worked at a different school and built a playground project, which comprised a fort built from metal. It took about two or three months to complete and that was UN sponsored.

ÒThere was other projects that I got it for. One was raising money for cancer research when I was based in Aldershot. We raised £700 and that was in 2001. Also whilst I was there I helped to build a childrenÕs play area.

ÒIÕm on the PTFA at St Matthews School and involved with various fundraising activities, and that was mentioned.

ÒThe other thing was the work I do with the British Legion. I help with the poppy appeal every year and I am a British Legion case worker, which involves counselling people who have left the forces.Ó

Mr Cox added: ÒWhatever the circumstances of what I have done it has always been as part of a team and whatever recognition I have received I feel all those I have been involved with deserve an equal share. I will always wear the medal and think of them.Ó

He will collect his MBE on Wednesday, February 26.