So what happened to Jubilee Award?
PUBLISHED: 11:20 08 September 2006 | UPDATED: 22:12 28 May 2010
A REWARD is offered today to help solve the last great mystery of Michael Eke s five years of systematic thieving: What happened to March ATC s Golden Jubilee Award? March hotelier Rob Skoulding is offering £500 in the hope that someone, other than Eke
A REWARD is offered today to help solve the "last great mystery" of Michael Eke's five years of systematic thieving: What happened to March ATC's Golden Jubilee Award?
March hotelier Rob Skoulding is offering £500 in the hope that someone, other than Eke himself, will come forward and say where it is.
"I know how important this award was to a lot of people but especially to the mums and dads, volunteers and supporters of the ATC," he said. "It's vital, for their sakes, we find it."
Mr Skoulding, director of the Oliver Cromwell Hotel, said the reward would only be paid if the commemorative award is returned, in tact, to its rightful owners via the Cambs Times' hotline number, which will be manned by staff 24 hours a day. The number is: 0772 236 7522.
Three years ago, the ATC was one of only 16 organisations throughout East Anglia to receive the award from The Queen- but Eke has refused to say where it is now.
In 2003 just 200 crystal trophies with certificates were handed out nationwide and March ATC received one from The Queen's representative, Michael Marshall, the vice- Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire.
But Eke, facing sentencing for 14 charges, has refused to tell police what happened to it.
Police sources confirm that despite questioning over many months, Eke refused to give up the secret.
"It truly is the last great mystery of the Michael Eke era," one officer confirmed. "Your reward idea might just help prise out the information."
Her Majesty announced in April 2002, the creation of a new, annual award the mark the occasion of her Golden Jubilee.
March and Chatteris Talking Newspaper for the Blind received an identical award in 2004, and their piece of crystal is kept secure inside March Town Hall.
Ironically, Eke told his ATC committee their crystal was also in the town hall, locked in a safe, but police discovered this to be a lie.
Trevor Clarke, whose wife Caroline is ATC chairman, said his family had been under considerable stress because of the investigation into Eke. It was they who first reported suspicions of financial irregularities to the RAF.
But it is the Queen's Award they now want returned most of all, and Mr Clarke said he was surprised Eke had not been charged with stealing it.
"It's not his, it's belongs to the town," he said. "Where would he sell it without a certificate anyway? To my mind he's like a rapist who needs a trophy. I can only assume he feels as if he has raped the squadron of money, and this trophy is his 'reward'"
Mr Clarke added: "Truthfully, we feel lost for words. I hate him for what's he done, or what he has not done, for duping the town and for lying to everyone, especially to the cadets."
Clive Lemmon, the town clerk, confirmed he had no knowledge of the ATC Queen's Award and stated: "We have never, ever been given it for safe keeping."
HOW EKE LIED TO THE QUEEN FOR HIS MBE
SELF-CONFESSED fraudster Michael Eke's MBE, the honour he treasured most, could, ironically, be the award that incurs the most wrath from Judge Peter Downs.
For Eke is unique in the sense he has become the only person ever to admit fraudulently creating fictitious nominees to support his bid for an honour.
While others, such as former champion jockey Lester Piggott, have been stripped of honours, there has never been a suggestion that their nominations were anything other than 100 per cent genuine.
For Judge Downs, when he passes sentence next month on the 14 charges to which Eke has pleaded guilty, it will be the one concerning forging names on his MBE nomination that he might find most perplexing.
Given that the charge sheet defendants face says 'Regina v ....', Judge Downs will ponder on how to deal with a man who conned Her Majesty in such spectacular fashion.
Eke's vanity knew no bounds as he took his friends, Bernard and Sylvia Keane, his wife and his mother-in-law, to Buckingham Palace, London, in November 2003 to watch him collect his MBE.
As our front page photographs from the day show, Eke appeared resplendent in full morning suit as he strode purposely towards Her Majesty.
In an illuminating insight into his Walter Mitty-type character, he penned his diary of the day for the Cambs Times, beginning with waking: "To the chimes of Big Ben at 5am, and dressing carefully, making final adjustments to my morning suit. We went down to breakfast, but I could hardly eat a thing."
Eke continued: "At 10am we entered the Palace gates, and my guests went straight into the ballroom while I was whisked away into the picture gallery to wait with the other 109 recipients who were to receive honours that day."
At 12.30pm, Eke recalled how his name was called and "I approached the dais where Her Majesty stood and bowed in front of her. She pinned my MBE onto my jacket. A long conversation then followed to which she stated that she had travelled through March on a number of occasions.
"She asked if I thought it was a long way to London. I replied that it wasn't too bad. She then remarked about my service to the ATC and we conversed a few more minutes."
What, of course, Eke did not tell Her Majesty was the trail of deception which lay undiscovered in March, and the lies he had told to win his invitation to the Palace.
Instead, Eke was later to tell readers of the Cambs Times: "As a March citizen I was proud to have stood and received my award from Her Majesty the Queen, proud to think that I represented in some way the town of March, and all the young people whom I have known over the years as commanding officer of the ATC.
"I am now a Member of the British Empire and was given this honour for services to youth and to this community of March - a thing I feel I have done well, and I shall continue for as long as I can."
That may not be for too much longer, for as North East Cambs MP Malcolm Moss, one of those duped along the way by Eke, said this week: "He should swiftly be stripped of the honour.