A FORMER inspector in the special constabulary who has volunteered for almost 60 years recruited reformed burglars to help crime proof one of his many community initiatives.

Leslie Fawcett said he was “chuffed” to have been made an MBE and, having only told his wife, could not wait to share the news of his accolade with his three children.

A volunteer since the age of 17, he joined the special constabulary where he rose to the rank of inspector, a position he held in his home town of Middlesbrough for 28 years.

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It led to him getting involved with community issues and implementing ground-breaking projects across the town.

To combat a spiralling number of house break-ins, Mr Fawcett introduced alley gates which, not only saw the crime rate fall, but also saw a rise in civic pride with fly-tipping replaced with hanging baskets.

“I didn’t want the spikes to make them look like prison gates and I got a couple of former burglars I knew to help design them. The first time they were able to scale them, but after we did the second version they said 'we would not attempt that'.”

He also developed the ‘message in a bottle’ initiative, whereby a stamp on a front door alerts the emergency services to a form in an elderly person’s fridge listing ailments and medication.

“I heard about it in Australia and I thought that if it’s good enough for them it’s good enough for us,” said the 75-year-old.

Mr Fawcett , who has been made an MBE for services to the community particularly elderly people in Middlesbrough. thanked his wife, Barbara, for her unwavering support over the years.

“I am chuffed with the honour, I was not expecting it at all.

“People have called me daft for volunteering but I’m not daft, when I see older people with smiling faces that’s all the reward I need."

He has been actively involved in Southfield Community Council, Middlesbrough Senior Citizen’s Forum and Teesside University which has supported events such as an annual meal for 300 of the town’s vulnerable, older residents.

“I regard Teesside University to be the best thing that has ever happened in Middlesbrough, if they had not come we would not have achieved what we have," he said.

Mark White, head of the vice-chancellor's office at Teesside University, added: "Les Fawcett is an amazing citizen who embodies everything that is great about Middlesbrough and Teesside. This MBE is thoroughly deserved and I am absolutely delighted for him.”