A NORTON woman behind an award-wining project for people with learning difficulties has scooped a gong of her own.

Sue Wallin, aged 69, from the Stourbridge-based Side By Side Theatre Company has been made an MBE in the New Year's honours list.

The company, which is now in its 16th year, aims to give people with learning difficulties a chance to express themselves through drama and dance and regularly collects accolades for its creativity and professionalism.

Despite being notified of her award several weeks ago, Sue, aged 69, is only now able to tell of her joy after the honours list was made public this week.

She said: "I feel very honoured to be made an MBE, I also feel very humbled, because so many people in the UK give their time and energy voluntarily to help others and go unrecognised, so I feel very privileged to have what I and the many volunteers working with me, do acknowledged in this way.

"The world is a more interesting place because we have people like the Side By Side actors in it.

"For their sake and the sake of all of us, I hope I am proving that people with a learning disability are not a burden on the state, but given the right opportunities they can make a very valuable contribution.

"The secret of the groups success is working to the highest possible standards and not accepting limitations. The actors know they work with the same methods as professional actors."

The group's next production, called Prodigal Son, will take place in June at Stourbridge Town Hall.