A pillar of the community in a Hartlepool village said she thought it was a prank when she received a letter saying she was being awarded an MBE.
But it was true and delighted Dorothy Clark, the chairwoman of Greatham Community Association, is set for a visit to Buckingham Palace as she has been recognised in the New Year’s Honours List.
I got myself a bit upset, because I thought that someone was playing a joke on meDorothy Clark MBE
Mrs Clark, 85, has been associated with Greatham Community Centre for 45 years, and is also the chairwoman of Greatham in Bloom.
Greatham in Bloom uses flowers, shrubs and trees to enhance the look of the area.
The project won a gold medal in 2014 and 2015, and Mrs Clark has now been recognised for her work with that and in the community.
However, she did not initially believe the letter she received was genuine.
She said: “I got a letter to say I had been given the award, and I got myself a bit upset, because I thought that someone was playing a joke on me.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to be recognised in this way. I haven’t got over the shock yet.
“When I wake up on a morning, it’s one of the first things I think about.
“You just don’t think something like that will happen to you. It’s wonderful.”
Mrs Clark is a mother to Peter, 59, grandmother to Joe, 28, and Rebecca, 24, and wife to the late Geoffrey.
She has dedicated the MBE to all of those who have helped her over the years, and continue to do so.
She added: “I accept this honour on behalf of all the people that helped me, because without them it wouldn’t be possible.
“We’ve had terrific success over the years, including winning outright best village in 1996, and winning gold medals for Greatham in Bloom.
“We have regular helpers, and when the judges are coming to the village, everyone helps out.
“I’m proud of the village, and I just love doing the work I do.
“To be recognised for that is terrific, and I can’t wait to go down to Buckingham Palace to collect it.”