A civil servant who has also provided invaluable support to breast cancer patients over the years has told of her pride after being awarded an MBE.
Margaret Burns, from South Shields, was recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
She was awarded the honour for her 41 years as a civil servant, her role as a magistrate and for her work within a breast cancer support group after she herself had beaten the disease.
Mrs Burns, who recently moved to Cleadon Village with her husband of 40 years, Denis, said she could not believe it when she received the news.
She said: “I was absolutely thrilled to find out. It was a massive surprise, because it’s something you just never expect to happen to you. At first, I thought that someone was winding me up.
“It’s a huge privilege, and has helped to make this a very special year for the family after myself and Denis celebrated our 40-year anniversary on Valentine’s Day.”
Margaret has worked as a civil servant for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) since leaving school, and still works for HMRC full-time.
For the last 18 years, she has also been a magistrate serving at South Shields Magistrates’ Court, and has been a school governor in the past.
Her biggest battle, though, came when she was diagnosed with breast cancer 10 years ago.
After beating the disease, she dedicated time to a support group for other breast cancer patients at the Royal Victoria Infirmary (RVI), in Newcastle.
Margaret, who is a mother to Graeme, 30, said: “People could come to me and I could explain my experience. I also spoke to doctors about how it feels to be on the other side.
“We made a DVD so people could see others who had gone through it, and I found it very rewarding.
“Over the years, I’ve also done lots of fundraisers for charity and have worked as much as I can in the community. I’ve always just wanted to put something back into the community.”