AN 82-YEAR-OLD former special needs teacher who set up a women’s club more than 25 years ago has been awarded a British Empire Medal by The Queen.

Unsung hero Enid Hales, from Newton-le-Willows, has been honoured with the BEM for for services to the community.

She founded a branch of the National Association of Women’s Clubs (NAWC) after finding a lack of services for older women in Newton-le-Willows.

The great-gran-of-six says after retiring from her work at Penkford School and the death of her first husband David she wanted something to occupy her time, but was shocked when she could not find anything available.

After seeing an advert in a paper, she started her own club for 12 ladies – and 25 years later it is still going strong.

She has more than 50 members who have regular social opportunities in a safe setting.

Since then she has led the branch and the delivery of weekly club meetings, putting together a programme of activities, organising speakers, representing the branch at regional and national events, supporting members’ attendance, organising weekly raffles and an annual ‘trip’ out for the club.

A shocked Enid said: “I am just overwhelmed because I never expected anything like this, in fact when the letter arrived I wondered what I had done wrong until I opened it.

“I have invited all the grandchildren and my son and daughter to afternoon tea to tell them, so I will be relieved when I can just share the news.

"I feel very, very honoured to be receiving this at my age, as I know there are so many deserving people out there.

"I sadly lost both my husbands David and Frank but I think they would both be very proud and amazed really.

"Losing David and retiring led to to starting the club and the aim as a whole is for education, friendship and fun and it has helped me and many others so I am proud.

“At some point I will receive my award from the Lord Lieutenant of Merseyside, which I look forward to, and to attend a garden party in London to see the Queen and royals.

"Mostly I’m excited to just be able to tell everyone as I’ve been sworn to secrecy for a month.

"It could not be more a more unexpected but lovely surprise.”

  •  The club meet at All Saints Church on Crow Lane East.