A STOURBRIDGE youth worker has been named as the Open University Business School's alumni of the year.

Julie Duffy, chief officer of young people’s advice and counselling service The What? Centre, in Stourbridge, collected her Master of Business Administration (MBA) in November, after four years of study.

Explaining why she enrolled, Julie said: “I realised that, although I had been a manager in my organisation for more than 20 years, I had no formal qualifications in management.

"The MBA has really developed my business confidence and I have a firm belief that you are never too old to study and it’s never too late to start something new."

The 58-year-old credits the course for equipping her with the skills to save the voluntary sector project from the brink of closure, due to funding cuts.

She said: “Fortunately at the time, I was working on the creativity, innovation and change module and, as part of the practical assessment, I had to carry out a creative problem solving activity in my organisation.

"With the skills I’d learnt on the course, I invited in all of my staff and volunteers and decided on a plan of action to stop the centre closing – redecorating the centre, agreeing on a business plan for the future and campaigning in our local community.

"This supported our Big Lottery Bid for funding and we were awarded just under £300,000 to continue for another three years.”

Julie said it was "marvellous" to receive the Alumni of the Year achievement award and added: "Being the only woman nominated this year makes me even more proud to have won."