Campaigner Betty Smith-Billington to receive King’s New Year’s Honour

2 January 2024
Campaigner Betty Smith-Billington to receive King’s New Year’s Honour

Betty Smith-Billington, chair of the Dorset-based Gypsy and Traveller charity Kushti Bok, will picking up a British Empire Medal after being named in the King’s New Year’s Honours list.

Betty was awarded the BEM for services to the Gypsy and Traveller community. 

“It’s really a great honour and feels so good to get recognised,” said Betty Smith-Billington, “but it’s also good for the Gypsy and Traveller community to be recognised.” 

“Several already have MBEs and OBEs, it’s not a new thing, but there are not many of us who have been recognised,” she continued. 

“We are just normal people: my father served in the Royal Marines, and people say we don’t do anything for the country, but we do.” 

Later in the year Betty will receive her BEM from the Lord-Lieutenant of Wessex and will also be attending a Royal Garden Party.

Being notified about the BEM was not the only good news that Betty Smith-Billington received near the end of last year.

Kushti Bok – the charity Betty founded over 20 years ago – has just received a substantial amount of funding from the community fund and will be moving into a proper office of its own. Up until now Betty’s mobile home served as her office.

In partnership with the Citizens Advice Bureau, Kushti Bok will also be employing two extra people to help Betty out – an advice worker and a finance manager.

“This has been my dream to get this far,” said Betty. “Hopefully this is just the start of a new chapter for Kushti Bok and its mission to represent, support and serve the Gypsies and Travellers of Dorset.”

Well deserved Betty! From all at the Travellers’ Times

Mike Doherty/TT News

(Photo (c) Vicky Stevens)