Charity champion Ann Walsh has been given a Royal seal of approval in the New Year’s Honours List.
The 56-year-old, from East Boldon, has helped raise more than £200,000 for Cancer Research UK by organising the annual Jarrow Relay For Life.
As the event approaches its 10th anniversary, the mum-of-three has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for charitable services particularly through Cancer Research UK.
Thousands of people have taken part in the 24-hour event at Monkton Stadium to either celebrate overcoming cancer themselves or raise funds in memory of a loved one lost to the disease.
Ann, a PE teacher at Epinay School in Jarrow, said: “I was so shocked when I found out, I had no idea. My husband, Maurice, rang me one day when I was at work and said a very important-looking letter had come for me.
“I thought it was something to do with a CRB check but then he said it was from the Cabinet Office and I still didn’t click, I thought something was wrong.
When I won an award at the Best of South Tyneside Awards, I was chuffed about that, so to receive this national award is just something else, I can’t believe it.Ann Walsh
“He asked if he should open it so I told him to then after a couple of seconds’ silence he told me that maybe I should sit down, then he said I was going to be getting a BEM and I couldn’t believe it.
“I’ve got no idea who nominated me but the fact that someone has taken the time to do it is so nice, and to have that recognition is incredible.
“When I won at the Best of South Tyneside Awards, I was chuffed about that, so to receive this national award is just something else, I can’t believe it.”
Ann was named Fundraiser of the Year at the awards earlier this year.
She added: “I may work hard at the event, but I’m not the one who has raised all of this money.
“The people who take part every year are the ones responsible for the fundraising and making it all possible.”