New Year’s Honours: Retired surgeon who fights for asylum seekers in South Tyneside handed MBE

Anne Seymous has been awarded an MBE in the New Year's Honours List.
Anne Seymous has been awarded an MBE in the New Year's Honours List.

A retired surgeon, who fights for asylum seekers and refugees in South Tyneside, has been handed a royal honour.

Anne Seymour has been named a Member of the British Empire (MBE) in the New Year’s Honours List.

The 80-year-old, of The Lonnen, South Shields, was recognised for services to asylum seekers and refugees in South Tyneside.

Miss Seymour founded STARCH (South Tyneside Asylum Seeker and Refugee Church Help), a support service and drop-in centre back in 1999.

Since then, she has worked tirelessly to help children and their families who have been given the right to remain in the UK, running drop-in centres and support groups in churches throughout the borough.

She said: “I was very shocked at the news because I think there are a lot of people who do a lot more than I do.

“The first thing I thought was, ‘oh dear, what’s everyone going to say?’

“But then I thought that not accepting it might upset whoever has nominated me, so I said yes.”

She added: “Setting up this charity was easier in South Tyneside than it would have been in other places because South Shields was already such a multi-ethnic town.

“I’m very honoured to accept this award, but still very shocked.”