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Queen's Gallantry Medal for Dorset hero Matthew Robinson

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: November 17, 2012

Matthew Robinson

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He was the teenager who rescued five children from a burning house, and she is the inspiration behind a Somerset fashion house’s rise to global prominence.

And, although their services to the nation might be considered a touch different, Matthew Robinson and Emma Hill were honoured for their services to the nation by the Queen.

Mr Robinson who, together with his family rescued five children from a burning house when he was 18, was awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal.

Now aged 20, on that fateful night he heard Tracee Barlow screaming for help as her children were trapped in their home, in Abbotsbury near Weymouth in Dorset, as it went up in flames in January 2010.

The hero’s mother, Jackie Robinson, got a ladder and helped three of the children escape.

He then went inside the house to gather Ms Barlow’s son Jack, 11, and daughter Chantelle, five, before passing them out of the window to his father, Roy.

After receiving the medal, Mr Robinson said: “It is good to know that the Queen realises that people in our own country do stuff that is heroic as well.”

Asked what it is like to be a hero, the mechanic said: “It feels quite good, I’m not going to lie.

“I do get the mick taken quite a lot, there’s quite a few people who make jokes about it.

“If I turn up people will be like, ‘oh, here’s the hero’, stuff like that.”

The Queen’s Gallantry Medal is awarded for acts of bravery by citizens that rank lower than those deemed necessary for the George Medal.

Emma Hill’s was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for her services to British fashion.

She is the creative director at luxury accessories brand Mulberry, the fashion firm based in Somerset which has had something of a whirlwind few years dominating fashion shows and turning in multi-million pound profits.

Credit has most gone to Ms Hill, 42, who introduced the phenomenally successful Alexa bag, named after fashionista Alexa Chung.

The bag sold in such vast quantities that the factory in Chilcompton, Somerset, where the company is based, has struggled to keep up. It has led to Mulberry expanding its operations with a new factory in Bridgwater, and brought international fashion acclaim to Somerset.

Accompanied by six-year-old son Hudson, the award-winning designer said she was overwhelmed by the honour.

“I didn’t think I was going to be so nervous, but it makes me incredibly proud to be British,” she said.

“The Queen asked me if we manufactured in Britain and I told her that we are currently opening our second factory in Somerset, which I think is great for the area, for the economy and the country as a whole.

Mulberry creative director Emma Hill, whose designs have helped the Somerset-based company’s profits soar, and whose fans include the Duchess of Cambridge, was presented with a CBE for services to fashion by the Queen yesterday.

“Being awarded a CBE from the Queen is a lovely and very unexpected honour.

“I feel like I am accepting it on behalf of the whole of Mulberry, as a reflection of what the business as a whole has achieved over the last four years.

“As an English brand with a passion for Great British creativity, craft and manufacturing we are absolutely delighted to have been recognised in this way.”

The daughter of a professor of mathematics, Ms Hill moved to New York where she worked for Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs and Gap before joining Mulberry as creative director in March 2008.

She brought a slicker look to the quintessentially English brand, and under her direction the brand, founded 42 years ago by Roger Saul, has gone from strength to strength.

Earlier this year it announced pre-tax profits up by 54 per cent to £36 million. Some of its classic leather bags can retail for around £1,000.

Her flair for covetable designs has won her numerous awards, including Best Accessories Designer at 2011’s Elle Style Awards, as well as helping Mulberry to the honour of Best Designer Brand 2010’s British Fashion Awards.

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