A PROUD pair of Hartlepool women have spoken of their surprise and pride after being recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honour’s list.
Peggy Allen has been awarded an MBE for her services to the community in Seaton Carew while Valerie Lister is to receive a British Empire Medal for services to heritage in the town through her work with the Hartlepool Civic Society.
The delighted duo say they were both “overwhelmed” when they received a letter through the post from the Cabinet Office informing them.
Mrs Allen is originally from Brighton but moved to town in 2002 and settled in Seaton Carew and has been recognised for her lifelong dedication and service to the Christian Church, Women’s Fellowship and the community.
Despite being 93, Mrs Allen continues to serve those around her through her commitment and passion as Seaton Carew Methodist Church pianist and house group leader.
In Brighton, between 1953 and 1985, Mrs Allen led the Salvation Army Home League meeting for women every Thursday preaching, playing the piano and organising events for women throughout the community.
Between 1975 and 2002, she also ran the Ladies Fellowship in Brighton, planning and hosting meetings, preaching, playing the piano and planning events and for many years gave up her Christmas Day to provide lunch in the church hall for those less fortunate.
Now, living in Hartlepool, Mrs Allen still tries hard to be active and at Christmas time plays carols on a portable organ in local care homes.
Mrs Allen, who is looking forward to a trip to Buckingham Palace to receive the MBE, said: “I am truly amazed.
“This is a true honour and I feel very proud but it is still sinking in to be honest.
“It is certainly not something I expected,” added the grandmother of five and great-grandmother of three, whose husband John passed away in 1995.
Mrs Allen is mum to John, 51, and Patricia Mills, who sadly passed away aged 60.
Proud son John said: “All of mum’s work has been unpaid and she has strived tirelessly to help lonely and often vulnerable women to feel part of a community and fellowship, at a time in the past when opportunities and support for women and the poor were very limited.
“All this, whilst working and bringing up a family of her own.”
Son-in-law Andrew Mills, 68, of Brenda Road, said: “We are all very proud and it is a fantastic recognition.”
Meanwhile, Mrs Lister, who is secretary of Hartlepool Civic Society, has been recognised for her contribution to heritage over the past four decades.
The British Empire Medal (BEM) will be presented to Mrs Lister, a retired lecturer who lives in Elwick Village, locally before recipients are then invited to a Buckingham Palace garden party next summer.
Mrs Lister, who is married to Rick, said: “I am overwhelmed and delighted to have received this honour, it was a total surprise to receive the letter.
“However, I feel it is also for Sheila Bruce and my hard-working colleagues in the Society, not to mention the unfailing support given by my husband.
“I have been involved with the civic society for more than 35 years and been a member of the committee for 30 years, the last seven of which I have been secretary.
“This is a real honour and it will be wonderful to visit Buckingham Palace for the garden party.”
Mrs Lister was born and raised in Wingate and Station Town and is also a member of Hartlepool Community Choir and has previously served as a parish councillor for Elwick.
The civic society, working closely with Hartlepool Borough Council’s conservation and planning teams, aims to secure protection and improvement of buildings of historic and architectural interest.
Mrs Lister added: “We try to promote high standards of planning and architecture and try to protect the environment and generally try to stimulate public interest.”