New year gong joy for Julie

Stourbridge News: Julie Duffy Julie Duffy

AN ambitious and determined Stourbridge youth worker has been awarded for her services to children and families.

Julie Duffy, chief officer at the Stourbridge-based The What? Centre, has been awarded a British Empire Medal in the New Year's honours list.

She has worked at the centre, which provides advice and counselling to 13 to 25-year-olds, for 26 years and said she was "surprised but proud" to have had her achievements recognised and added: "I see it as a lifetime award for a lifetime of work."

The 58-year-old is in charge of bringing in funding to the Coventry Street centre and described securing a Big Lottery grant of £293,061 as her "proudest moment".

In 2011, the Coventry Street centre was weeks away from shutting its doors for good after Dudley Council cancelled contracts worth £47,000 per year.

She said: "The centre was very close to closing but we stuck in there and believed in our work. We were supported by the public and secured the funding. Seeing the centre blossom since has been fantastic."

When she isn't seeking funds, Julie, a trained psychotherapist, also gives counselling to vulnerable young people in need and supports the centre's staff and volunteers.

The mother-of-two added: "My family are very excited, they have been the people who have been alongside me all of these years. I've always been an ambitious person but I never thought I would stay in a job for 26 years, but once you start to work at the centre, it's hard to leave. It is not an easy job but it is very rewarding."

Julie was not the only local luminary to secure a British Empire Medal, lecturer Dr Simon Cotton from Stourbridge, was awarded for his services to chemistry and education and West Midlands Ambulance Service Chief Executive, Anthony Marsh, was announced as a recipient of the Queen’s Ambulance Service Medal.

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