Exmouth's Gill collects British Empire Medal
PUBLISHED: 06:30 24 May 2016
An Exmouth community champion says she will never forget two days in which she attended a Buckingham Palace garden party and received the British Empire Medal.
Gill Laws, 75, of Broadmead, Brixington, was awarded the medal in the New Year Honours list for services to the community.
As a result, she was able to attend a party at the palace, and did so on May 10 – the day before she received her medal from the Lord Lieutenant of Devon in a ceremony at County Hall.
Gill said: “It was just a wonderful two days – something I shall never forget, and something I would never have dreamt of ever happening. It was so unexpected, all of it.”
Attending the palace party with her granddaughter Sarah Doherty, Gill was able to explore the grounds before getting up close to the Queen as she went by.
Gill said: “People were so good. Because I’m not very tall, they pushed me to the front, so I was very close when the Queen went past. I didn’t get to meet her but I was very, very close.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The atmosphere was wonderful.”
It was well past midnight when Gill made it back to Exmouth, but she had to be ready the following day for the medal ceremony, which she attended with her best friend, Christine Sykes, her cousin Anna Pugh, and Anna’s husband Graham.
Gill said: “The investiture was lovely. An absolutely beautiful occasion.”
Gill received the medal for a wide range of community work, including serving as secretary for the Exmouth and District Talking Newspaper, and volunteering at National Trust property A la Ronde, for which she recently received an award for 25 years of service.
She also formerly served as chairman of the Phoenix Friendship Group, and chairman of the National Trust Raleigh Centre.
She also spent 41 years at Brixington Primary School, first as a teacher, then as vice-chairman of governors.