Published Wednesday 21st June 2023

A volunteer who has devoted almost 30 years of his life to St Michael’s Hospice has been honoured by the King – just weeks before his 98th birthday.

Ernest Randolph Langford – affectionately known as ‘Randy’ – received a Medallist of the Order of the British Empire (BEM) accolade in recognition of his sterling work picking up collecting tins for the Bartestree-based charity for the last three decades.   

He says he was shocked to hear he’d been recognised in what was King Charles’ first-ever Birthday Honours list.

“I received a letter from the Cabinet Office saying I was to receive this award,” said Randy, who lives in Mordiford.  

“It said I couldn’t tell anyone about it, which for me was very difficult! But I was very pleased to have received it – and the phone hasn’t stopped ringing since it was announced.

“This doesn’t mean I’m going to stop though. I love collecting the tins and, although I’ve cut back a little bit over the years, it still means a lot to me.”

Among those to nominate Randy was the Hereford-based Probus Club of which he is a member.

During Randy’s collection journey, he has helped bring around £400,000 into St Michael’s by picking up tins from schools, places of work and community centres across Herefordshire.

This figure has been boosted by the sale of festive Hospice Christmas badges, distributed countywide.

At any one time, Randy has more than 200 Hospice tins in shops and workplaces across Hereford and beyond. There are a number of willing volunteers who help him out.

“Randy is the epitome of our volunteers here at St Michael’s,” said Mike Keel, the Hospice’s Chief Executive.

“He’s selfless, loyal and fully committed to the Hospice. We’re so lucky to have him and on behalf of everyone at St Michael’s I would like to say a huge well done to Randy for this much deserved honour.”

Randy’s collecting journey began in the early 1990s following a chat with John Caiger, then a member of the Hospice’s Development Trust.

He asked Randy whether he would be interested in picking up collection tins from shops and workplaces, but Randy found precious little in the way of collecting tins – particularly full ones – early on.

“I phoned John, told him things weren’t good, and asked if I could use my initiative and take the tins into some new places, which he agreed to,” added Randy.

The rest, as they say, is history and Randy regularly brings dozens of full tins back to the Hospice’s Fundraising team office.

Anyone interested in keeping a collection tin at their shop, business or place of work should call the St Michael’s Hospice Events and Community team on 01432 851000.