A Crawley stalwart who has dedicated her life to helping people in the community has been celebrated in the Queen’s New Year’s honours.
Mary Grace, from Three Bridges, has been awarded with a British Empire Medal for her hard work and decades of service to the town.
She has given up hundreds of hours supporting multiple charities as well as helped youngsters complete national awards and battled antisocial behaviour, working to make Three Bridges a fun and safe place to live.
Despite giving up so much of her time Mary said the award was not for her but was for everyone she has had fun with over the years.
She said: “I am excited but I don’t deserve this.
“It’s for the beautiful people and Crawley, it’s not for me. It’s for all the people I have been involved with.
“I have had fun with those people. I don’t work I go and play the fool like everybody else.”
Mary has lived in Crawley for most of her life growing up in Gossops Green before moving to Three Bridges.
She spent many years as a Neighbourhood Watch coordinator in Three Bridges, helping to tackle multiple issues including anti-social behaviour in the area by lighting up the streets.
For ten years she also drove the Age UK minibus, taking older residents on day trips and for meals out across the county.
It was at one of the meals she helped save a man’s life, acting quickly to stop him from choking before he was rushed to hospital.
But she said one of her highlights was spending many years working with the fire service to help youngsters in the town complete their Duke of Edinburgh awards.
Despite being involved with so many organisations dealing with people from a variety of ages she said it was always about having fun.
She said: “I enjoy it, it’s not a job, it’s not a toil, it’s getting on and enjoying life.
“There is no age limit in my eyes. What happens is people split people up into different age groups but there isn’t any. The elderly can be just as childish as a baby and children can be just as grown up as the elderly.”
Mary also spent many years helping the Rotary Club and was Santa’s little helper for more than ten years in his annual visits to the town.
She has also given up a lot of time working on projects for Crawley in Bloom.
Mary is still involved in the community, hosting an arts and crafts event at Halfacre as well as being involved in the local fish and chip club.
She is also a member of the Three Bridges Forum and is encouraging more people to join.
“A lot of people today are so frightened to join in. It’s just making everybody more friendly and getting them to join in.”