An inspirational great-grandmother, who’s devoted four decades to volunteering in her community, has been presented with a royal honour.
Proud family and friends watched on as June Knightley, 82, from Houghton, was presented with the British Empire Medal at a special ceremony at Philadelphia Cricket Club.
She received the prestigious medal from the Lord Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear Susan Winfield, with the Mayor of Sunderland Coun Barry Curran and Mayoress Carol Curran also in attendance.
June, who found out she’d be receiving the award after a mention in this year’s Birthday Honours List, has dedicated her spare time to helping the people of Houghton since 1977 when she began volunteering as a community warden.
Since then, the mum-of-three has thrown herself into helping at Newbottle Day Club, WRVS, Houghton Welfare Hall and other causes.
Today she still helps at lunches at Newbottle Day Club at Myre Hall, Houghton, as well at Social Focus in Age UK’s Bradbury Centre in Sunderland city centre.
Son Paul Thompson, 49, who is bar manager at Philadelphia Cricket Club, said: “It was an absolutely fantastic day. We all felt so proud of her, to spend 40 years helping her community, she’s a real unsung hero.
“It’s great to see a normal person, rather than an actor or a footballer, being recognised in this way.”
June says she has no plans to stop volunteering to help others.
“I dread the day I will have to give it up. I like to help people and meeting people, I really enjoy it,” she said.
Speaking about her volunteering at the day club, June, who is grandmother to Philip, Nicholas, Kieran and Emma and great-grandmother to Abigail and Oscar, said: “Older people come here for a coffee and I make them lunch in the kitchen. I love it.”