A BIG-HEARTED Wordsley woman has received Royal recognition for dedicating her life to helping others.

Julie Duffy, who is chief officer of young people’s advice and counselling service The What? Centre, in Stourbridge, was presented with a British Empire Medal for her outstanding service to the community.

The 58-year-old mum-of-two has spent 26 years helping youngsters through her work at the centre, which is based in Coventry Street.

She even helped to save the centre from closure in 2011 by securing a £300,000 Lottery grant after Dudley Council pulled the plug on £47k worth of annual funding.

In addition to her day job, Julie has consistently volunteered her time for good causes.

She was a leading figure in setting up Dudley's Summit House, which helps people affected by HIV and Aids, and she devoted many years to the old Robin Woods community centre in Stourbridge.

Julie has also been a governor of Belle Vue Primary School and Fairhaven Primary School, both Wordsley, and of Stourbridge College, and she is also chairman of Dudley Voluntary Youth Organisations.

The Lord-Lieutenant of the West Midlands, Paul Sabapathy CBE, the Queen’s representative in Dudley, presented Julie with her medal at a civic reception in the Mayor's parlour at Dudley Council on Thursday May 15.

He said: “Julie is an outstanding pillar of the community, who has devoted a lifetime to supporting the local community. I am delighted to recognise her contribution on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen. Julie's contribution is an excellent example of the council's ‘love your community’ campaign which encourages residents to participate and celebrate where they live."

Julie said: “I still can’t believe I have been given the medal. I didn’t know I had been nominated until I got the letter in the post informing me that I was being honoured.

“I see this, however, as recognition for everyone at the What? Centre and everyone that I have ever volunteered with.

“As a child I experienced bereavement and poverty and I had a tricky upbringing, so as an adult I wanted to help others.

"I am passionate about setting up local services to support people and will continue to look for opportunities to assist and sustain local people.

"There aren't many jobs you can work in and make a difference to people's lives."