Sat, 17 Oct 2020
“THIS one’s for you mum.”
That was the message from David Ball, the chairman of Newbury Cancer Care, after he was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List last week.
Mr Ball was a Newbury magistrate for 23 years and also played an active role in The Rosemary Appeal – a £5.3m fundraising campaign to build a cancer care and renal dialysis unit at the West Berkshire Community Hospital.
Speaking to the Newbury Weekly News, he said he was “incredibly honoured, surprised and pleased” to see his name on the list and dedicated the achievement to his mother Betty, who he described as an “incredible woman”.
He said: “My mum was a single parent and raised me and my brothers by herself and this is for her really.
“She raised us all on her own.
“It must have been so tough.
“Back in those days we didn’t have iPhones and iPads.
“We had an old radio and didn’t have a TV until I was eight.
“We lived in this grotty little thatched cottage in the middle of the New Forest that had no electricity, no bathroom, just a toilet at the bottom of the garden
“We really were brought up in poverty and only had a basic state education.
“My mum did an amazing job in difficult times and I just don’t know what to say about her.
“She was an incredible woman.
“She would get up early in the morning and light the fire to make us breakfast and do jobs before school, get us ready then go and work as a nurse.
“I wish she was still here to see this day, but sadly she died in 2012.
“She would have been marching up and down the street with a banner telling everyone she knew that her boy had got an OBE.
“She would have been dancing all the way to the palace.
“ I think she would have been very proud.”
Despite his humble upbringings, Mr Ball got a job as a state registered nurse in Bournemouth before his remarkable journey ended up with him becoming international president of an American healthcare company.
Mr Ball said the OBE shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to anyone who knows the family – his three brothers haven’t done too badly for themselves either.
His eldest brother Chris graduated as a cadet from Hendon Police College before emigrating to the US.
There, he joined the San Diego Police department, gradually working his way up through the ranks and recently retiring as a highly-regarded captain.
His other brother Mike emigrated to Australia, where he established the biggest and most successful liveaboard operation in the coral reef.
A few years ago he was named Australia’s ‘man of the year’.
Meanwhile his younger brother Andrew, a keen actor and director, moved to the Isle of Wight where he won an amateur ‘Oscar’.
Mr Ball, who lives in Chieveley with his wife of 45 years Anna, said: “I spoke to Chris the other day and he said ‘people wouldn’t believe it, brothers who were dirt poor ending up doing well for themselves’.
“I am incredibly proud of what we have all achieved and I put that down to mum.
“But I would never have got the OBE if it hadn’t been for the incredible people I have worked with over the years.”
Mr Ball, whose career in medical technology spanned 40 years, is now working as an independent funeral and wedding celebrant.