A fundraiser who has raised more than £54,000 to help Multiple Sclerosis (MS) sufferers has been recognised with a national honour.
Gwen Gray, 80, of Harlington, has been given a British Citizen Award for her services to the community. The award recognises hard-working individuals who make a positive impact on society.
Gwen started raising money for her local branch of the MS Society in 1993 after seeing the plight of her neighbour, an MS sufferer, who was unable to access help and treatment outside the village because of a lack of transport.
The 80-year-old was forced to retire five years earlier after falling down the stairs and breaking her neck.
As part of her recovery Gwen started potting young plants, a task she could do sitting or standing and in her own time. She began to sell them for money to donate to the MS Society.
From small plant sales and coffee mornings from her home, her fundraising efforts went from strength to strength.
She now also sells vegetables and soft fruits and makes jams, jellies, marmalades and chutneys. She also holds an annual garage sale and smaller sales throughout the year, thanks to donations she receives.
Speaking about her nomination, Gwen said: “I haven’t done any of what I’ve done to get any reward, it started out as just something to do that I could manage to do in my own time while I was recovering and it has just snowballed.
“I’m proud of what I have raised over the years but I’ve just been the catalyst.
“Other people buy my things, people donate things to the sales, it’s all down to the generosity of the village of Harlington. It wouldn’t have happened without them, they should be the ones receiving the medal.”
The money she has raised has helped to fund the running of the MS Society’s Dunstable, Luton and District branch’s minibus, which means people have access to The MS Therapy Centre in Bedford.
As well as raising money, Gwen has also raised awareness of the condition.
She will be honoured at a ceremony at the Palace of Westminster later this month. She will be presented with a Medal of Honour, inscribed with the words For The Good Of The Country.
Gwen was nominated for the honour by Harlington resident, Meryl Parker, she said: “Gwen’s contribution is outstanding because of her consistent hard work over 23 years, and the amount of money she has raised in a village of only 2,500 people.
“She’s still working hard to continue raising funds despite her own health problems and she’s incredibly inspirational to all those who know her.”