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Sue rubs shoulders with Olympic stars as she collects MBE
6:06pm Tuesday 5th March 2013 in News
A NORTON woman who founded an award-winning drama group for people with learning disabilities rubbed shoulders with Olympic stars and a former Prime Minister when she collected a Royal gong from the Queen.
Sue Wallin, who has been running Side by Side theatre group for 16 years, joined sporting heroes Jessica Ennis, Greg Rutherford, Nicola Adams, Joanna Rousall and Jason Kenny when she picked up her MBE at Buckingham Palace.
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair was also at the ceremony, last Thursday (February 28), accompanying wife Cherie who was honoured with a CBE for services to women’s issues and charity.
Retired drama teacher Sue, aged 69, who was accompanied by her husband Derek, son Gregory and her 14-year old granddaughter Charlotte, described the experience as a day to “remember forever”.
She said: “It was such a special day and wonderful that my family were able to share it with me. The Queen looked radiant in an off-white dress, she knew we had toured the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and gave us her best wishes for the future.
“I feel very special and humble to have been honoured and it has been a wonderful experience.”
The MBE is not the first royal honour for former Stourbridge College teacher Sue, who started Side by Side to give people with learning difficulties a chance to express themselves through drama and dance.
Last year she was named a Diamond Champion in an awards scheme founded by Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall and the WRVS to recognise the achievements of the over 60s in the Jubilee year.
And she picked up her accolade at a star-studded reception at St James’s Palace in November.
After enjoying a taste of the high life in recognition of her dedication to the group - it’s now back to business for tireless Sue, who is busy putting Side by Side members through their paces ahead of their forthcoming annual show at Stourbridge Town Hall in June.
Excerpts from the production, The Prodigal Son, will also be performed at Dudley Festival of Music, Drama and Dance this month.
The grandmother-of-three is also this year looking to expand the theatre group, based at St John’s Church in Stoubridge, and is currently on the lookout for a new rehearsal venue and costume store.