A POLICE officer from Bromsgrove who has tirelessly worked helping the homeless has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the New Year Honours List.
Ian Northcott, who is 51, set up the ‘Socks and Chocs’ charity five years ago to distribute thousands of items to those in need across the UK.
In 2015 alone, thanks to Ian’s organisation, there has been more than 12,000 pairs of socks, 5,500 bars of chocolates and thousands of sleeping bags, hats and gloves sent to the homeless.
Ian, who recently retired from West Midlands Police after 23 years, also found fame as ‘The Busking Bobby’ on YouTube when, in 2013, he gave an impromptu rendition of Oasis’ Wonderwall.
It happened while he was on-duty and, after chatting to a street performer, took the guitar and gave his own rendition of the Gallaghers’ classic.
The footage was filmed on a mobile and has since been seen more than 750,000 times.
The former member of the Royal Army Dental received a Point of Light award from Prime Minister David Cameron last year in recognition of his charity efforts.
During his time in West Midlands Police, he worked as a response officer, tackled retail crime in Birmingham, and in more recent years worked with the Prince’s Trust and Birmingham Metropolitan College to transform the lives of youngsters aged between 16 and 25 years from across the city.
Ian said he was stunned but delighted after getting the letter to inform him he was on the New Year Honours List.
He said it felt ‘amazing, he was honoured and absolutely delighted’.
Ian has also become well-known in Bromsgrove for inspiring people to get fitter by taking up Nordic Walking.
He runs sessions across the district.
Aspiring walkers can visit www.merciannordicwalking.co.uk or email Ian on firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.