Astronomy teacher over the moon after receiving award for charity work

Firefighter Ross takes his portable telescopes to schools, community groups and care homes to promote beauty of stargazing

Tuesday, 5th October 2021, 10:43 am

An astronomy teacher who works with schoolchildren and community groups in Buckingham has become a star himself after being presented with a British Citizen Award at the Palace of Westminster.

Ross Hockham was honoured for his work with UK Astronomy, which he set up in 2014 despite knowing nothing about stargazing.

His charity visits schools, community groups and care homes in Buckingham and around the county with its telescopes to inspire thousands of people to look up in wonder at our skies.

Ross receiving his medal from television presenter Tim Vincent (left) and Dame Mary Perkins of Specsavers

Ross, a full time London firefighter who lives in Milton Keynes, said: “Today we arrived at parliament along with a host of others to receive a medal and certificate for services to education!

“I was truly humbled to have been nominated and chosen to receive a British Citizens Award, something I didn’t even know about until I received an email a couple of months ago.

“My wife and friend had nominated me secretly. Today I realised that thanks to all those that have supported us, believed in us and volunteered, we have made a difference to not only our local communities but hopefully across the UK.

“So a massive thank you to you all, and please continue to help inspire and look up in wonder…”

Ross with one of his portable telescopes

All of Ross’s spare time is spent checking night sky guides and creating activity sheets for kids, recording podcasts and running the monthly photo competition.

Ross feels astronomy has no barriers and is a great way of bringing people together from all races, genders and ages.

Katie Dean of the Parks Trust in Milton Keynes said: “Working with UK Astronomy has allowed us to help engage more people with our parks from a totally different perspective. “Our Stars in the Park events are really popular as the talks are always engaging, captivating and fascinating for everyone.

“The team at UK Astronomy are so great to work with, offering lots of exciting new ideas and are really flexible. We look forward to continuing to work with them and to inspire people to get outside and explore the skies!”

UK Astronomy, which has over 20,000 members online, is raising £35,000 to buy an inflatable planetarium so students can look at the sky, come cloud or rain, night or day.