Valerie Ahern, from Witham, Essex was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the Queen's New Year Honours List for services in her local community as chairwoman for the Templars Estate Resident's Association. Valerie lives on the Templars Estate and was given the award for her work for the tenants. A BEM award was re-introduced for the Queen's Jubilee year and is given out to those who are trying to improve conditions in the community. Medals are used to recognise bravery, long and/or valuable service and/or good conduct. Valerie has spent 15 years working to upgrade security on the estate with CCTV and lighting to improve the quality of life for local residents.
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Valerie has been a member of the Witham congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 1996, after learning about the Church for 18 months. She states, 'I’m shocked at receiving the award, but it’s not just me it’s team work. You can’t do much on your own.' She helps out regularly by volunteering at Church and is currently serving in the Relief Society, one of the oldest and largest women's organisations in the world.
'I’ve enjoyed serving in the Community and have tried to make a difference. You need a lot of tact and love in your heart, especially with anti-social behaviour and drug problems.' You have got to be mindful of peoples situations, and not be judgmental, because “there, but for the Grace of God go I”. This work has made me aware of some of my own shortcomings. I’m doing my best, and one day I might get there, but my friends accept me as I am.'
Valerie is now waiting to hear when she will go to Buckingham Palace to receive this prestigious award from the Queen.