Marlow Opportunity Playgroup volunteer receives royal recognition

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Alison Rae of Marlow receives her BEM

Marlow resident Alison Rae was one of three Buckinghamshire residents who had their tireless commitment to helping others formally recognised by the Crown by being awarded British Empire Medals last week.

The three individuals were presented with their medals at a special ceremony hosted by HM Lord Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire, Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher, at Missenden Abbey on Thursday 16 May. The ceremony was also attended by a number of Buckinghamshire’s Deputy Lieutenants who read the citations.  

The British Empire Medal is awarded for civil or military service worthy of recognition by the Crown and was first created in 1922

Alison Rae has been a volunteer and supporter at the Marlow Opportunity Playgroup for 37 years.  Marlow Opportunity Playgroup was first set up in Marlow in the 1970s as part of the Red Cross, but is now based in Wooburn Green. It is a specialist playgroup for children under five years of age with complex and profound needs. They provide a unique service to the South Bucks/Northeast Berks area. It has received Outstanding ratings by Ofsted in 2011 and again in 2015. The playgroup is so successful that there is now a waiting list for children wanting to attend.  

Reading her citation, Deputy Lieutenant Mr Allan Westray said: “Alison has recently retired from some of her duties with the playgroup, but she continues her support through fundraising events and still visits regularly to see the children and staff. Alison has clearly touched the lives of very many families and really helped to raise the awareness of children with special needs.”

The Leader of Marlow Opportunity Playgroup, Jane Gibbons said  “Alison is a wonderful, warm and characterful lady. She has a real fondness for the charity and holds it very dear to her heart, having seen it grow and flourish over time. She has directly helped hundreds of children and their families over many years.  Alison loves all children, but the children who attend the playgroup are particularly special to her.  She has become very attached to many of the children and loves to hear of their progress”. 

The other two individuals who received medals were Mrs Joyce Rutter of Aylesbury her commitment to volunteering for Cancer Research UK, and Mrs Jennifer Woolveridge of Gerrards Cross for charity and community work.

Speaking after the ceremony, Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher said: “The British Empire Medal is only awarded to the most exemplary candidates and these three residents embody everything it represents. They have tirelessly devoted their lives to helping others in their local communities in a variety of different ways. The one thing they have in common is their dedication and commitment.  On behalf of HM The Queen, I heartily applaud each and every one of them – well done!”

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