Youth group chairman Anne is honoured with BEM

A happy Anne Barratt of Fitzalan Gems who received a BEM Award in the New Year's Honours list. Ref m

A happy Anne Barratt of Fitzalan Gems who received a BEM Award in the New Year's Honours list. Ref mhh 4827-02-15AW. Picture: Alex Walton - Credit: Archant

The mum-of-three was left floored by the surprise announcement

The chairman of Dunkeswell Youth Club has been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in the New Year Honours list for her services to young people in the village.

Anne Barratt, who lives in Dunkeswell, was told the news in November and said it was ‘torturous’ to keep it to herself until the end of December.

The mum-of-three, who owns Fitzalan Gems, in Sidmouth, said she was shocked when she received the surprise letter in the post, and instantly believed it to be a joke that was being played on her.

“For a week, I did not respond to the letter because I thought it was a joke,” Anne said. “But, when nothing was said, I thought to myself ‘this is really true’ and responded to it.”

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Anne then broke the news to her family around the dinner table, and said she was amazed at the lovely messages she received after the news became public.

“I felt honoured and privileged once I found out about this award,” she said. “I have received a lot of messages from people in Dunkeswell who see the work we all do.”

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Anne launched the youth group in 2003 after she was approached by parish councillors.

Despite accepting the challenge, Anne said she intended to simply create the voluntary group and then step down.

But to this day, she continues to volunteer at the popular club, which now boasts 120 regular members and six group leaders.

“Dunkeswell Parish Council is amazingly supportive of the club,” Anne added.

“We have mingled into the community and everyone turns up every week. It is a privilege working with the young people - it is truly rewarding.”

Anne will be presented with her medal at a local ceremony, and will also attend a Royal Garden Party.

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