WATCH: Charity champ Ann Walsh receive BEM at annual Jarrow Relay for Life

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A South Tyneside charity champion received the royal seal of approval - as she celebrated a decade campaigning in the fight against cancer.

Ann Walsh was honoured with the prestigious British Empire medal for her inspiring fundraising work for Cancer Research UK through organising the annual Relay for Life event in Jarrow.

Ann Walsh was honoured with the prestigious British Empire medal for her inspiringfundraising work for Cancer Research UK .

Ann Walsh was honoured with the prestigious British Empire medal for her inspiringfundraising work for Cancer Research UK .

The dedicated campaigner couldn’t think of a better time and place to receive her accolade - at the opening ceremony of this year’s event at Monkton Stadium in Jarrow on July 16.

The 22-hour event sees cancer survivors and charity fundraisers team up to walk continuous loops of the track at Monkton Stadium, in Dene Terrace.

Mrs Walsh was presented with the medal from the Lord Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear before setting her sights on making it a perfect ten years of charitable success, in the hope to raise a total of half a million pounds over the decade for the charity.

Mrs Walsh said: "It was really nice to have been presented with the award in from of my family and everyone here today.

"When I first found out about the award I was in total shock.

"My husband phoned by and said are you sitting down , and I said yes, and he said there is an important looking letter here for you.

"I thought it would be a fine or something and it turned out to be a BEM, so I was really shocked!

"The award really means a lot and to get it here is brilliant.

"The fundraising for the relay is massive this year, it is at £64,000 and that was before the relay had even started, but because it is our tenth year we wanted to set a high target.

"When I was first asked to do the event, I thought it would only be for a year and then someone else would take over, but no one ever did and it's like my baby now .

"Its really nice to be recognised and it really adds to the relay this year."

During the ceremony the Mayor of Tyne and Wear Alan Smith said: "This is a fantastic event that launched 10 years ago and has been one of the most successful events in the country, which is a tremendous honour in our area.

"This is down to the fantastic supporters and participants and the generosity of the community, which is greatly appreciated and makes sure that the event gets bigger and better each year.

"You should all be proud of yourselves."

Hundreds of people took part in the relay again this year to show their support and raise funds in the fight against cancer.

Friends Ellen Thompson, 75, from Gateshead, and Jeanette Johnstone, 70, from Westminster Crescent in Hebburn, were taking part in the event for the first time this year in memory of relatives and friends who had lost their fight to the illness.

Ms Thompson said: "This is our first relay and so far it has been a really good day, as there is such a brilliant atmosphere."