A devoted magistrate who has championed countless community causes has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
Joan McConn was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for her services to the community in Kingston, which range from ushering voluntarily at the Rose Theatre to sitting on the conservation area advisory committee.
She said: "I was gobsmacked really; I never thought I would get it. I am really pleased; it’s quite gratifying really to have some sort of recognition."
The 65-year-old helped set up environmental group Transition Town Kingston (TTK) and the Kingston Federation of Allotments and is lettings secretary for the Addison Gardens Allotment Association.
She is a keen committee member of the Spring Grove Residents Association, chairwoman of the Kingston Tour Guides and has looked after St John’s parish hall for 20 years, securing lottery funding for redevelopment.
The magistrate of 18 years is also a trustee for charity Learning English at Home.
Liverpool-born Mrs McConn said her mother, who always helped others, would frequently send her and her two sisters across the road with Sunday dinner for elderly neighbours.
She said: "I suppose that’s where I get it from; I really do care about society. I think it’s really important. People don’t think about the small things which can be really important to people.
"But I feel strongly about community, that’s the main thing."
Mrs McConn said she found out she was in line for the honour a month ago but had to keep it a secret and rushed online in the early hours of Saturday, June 16, to see if she was successful. She said: "I didn’t really believe it. What’s really nice is seeing the nice things that people said about me. You don’t think to say them day to day."
The BEM, sometimes called the working class gong, was scrapped in 1993 by John Major in an effort to make the honours system classless.
But last year David Cameron announced it would be reinstated to mark the Queen's diamond jubilee and recognise people’s dedication and hard work in their communities.
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