A 77-year-old grandmother from Horley has been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in the New Year Honours.
Margaret Charlwood was honoured for services to exercise in recognition of the decades of work she has put in with the Medau Society, which encourages healthy living through exercise, movement and dance.
Margaret found out that she was on the Honours List at the end of November and admitted that she found it hard to keep the secret.
She said: “When I first got the letter, I was so shocked and surprised and I kept reading it and reading it.
“It said I should not tell anyone but I did tell my daughter. On Christmas Day, I gave the letter to one of my grandchildren who read it out to everyone.”
Although she has no idea who nominated her, Margaret guessed it was some one from the Medau Society.
She said: “I’m thrilled to bits and think how wonderful it is that I have been rewarded for this.
“I was just amazed and shocked - it was wonderful.
“It was such a big surprise, I don’t know what I will do to celebrate yet. I’ve had loads of emails and my family are over the moon. I haven’t stopped smiling since it happened.”
The BEM is not the first time Margaret has been recognised for her achievements. In 2000, she received an Inspiration Award from the Sunday Times in the Women of the Year category.
In 2008, she won an Exceptional Achievement Award from the Register of Exercise Professionals.
Margaret teaches eight classes for older people in Horley and Redhill eight times a week - coaching some 200 people.
She said: “I’ve been doing Medau for almost 50 years and really enjoy it. It’s movement and dance suitable for all ages.”
While, at the age of 77, anyone would be forgiven for thinking of taking it easy, nothing could be further from Margaret’s mind. She said: “I have absolutely no intention of retiring!”
News of her honour was greeted with delight on he Medau Facebook page with the group offering “warmest congratulations”, while Jennifer Fry added: “About time too, Margaret has done so much for Medau.”
To find out more about Medau, log on to www.medau.org.uk or call 01403 266000.