Margaret says she was gobsmacked when told of her MBE in New Year's Honours List

MARGARET Oatey admitted she was gobsmacked when she heard the news of her MBE, announced today in the New Year s Honours List. The 65 year-old volunteer worker from March was informed by letter of the award in November, on her birthday. I thought it wa

MARGARET Oatey admitted she was "gobsmacked" when she heard the news of her MBE, announced today in the New Year's Honours List.

The 65 year-old volunteer worker from March was informed by letter of the award in November, on her birthday.

"I thought it was a hoax at first," she said. "But then I realised it was too official looking. I have to say I was gobsmacked when the news sank in".

Mrs Oatey said: "My first reaction was do I even accept the award? But I then thought this was about the organisations I support and I realised that if an MBE is at the back of anything I send out helps any of the organisations I support, then so be it."

Mrs Oatey, a former social worker, has spent the past 12 years working for a number of voluntary groups, especially Mencap and is currently on the board of trustees.

She has also helped with Mencap's befriending scheme, and has also been involved with the Fenland disability sports group.

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She said the award recognised the work of Mencap and other groups in Fenland "and in reality it's about being part of teams since I've never been one to work on my own."

Graham McDonald, former project coordinator for Mencap's befriending scheme, said: "It is incredibly good news. I am very pleased for her. It is richly deserved.

"The remarkable aspect of her Mencap work is that she got involved even though she didn't have a family member with a learning disability"

Mrs Oatey was nominated for the award by Mencap, with three people particularly involved in the process - past general secretary Sheila Wright, June Money and the Rev Anthony Chandler.

Alan Stapleton, a Trinity churchgoer said he and his wife Joyce moved to March 10 years ago but Mrs Oatey was involved with the church long before they were members.

Mrs Oatey was one of the 'movers and shakers' when Trinity was created from the old St Paul's Methodist Church, the Primitive Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church 20 years ago.

"Mrs Oatey is also very much involved in the pastoral life of the church - she keeps in contact with a lot of people associated with the church," he said. Mrs Oatey also ran a youth group when Mr and Mrs Stapleton moved here.

Mr Stapleton said that in recent years Mrs Oatey was involved in the Open Door scheme, a monthly group where people can drop by, enjoy a coffee, a chat and play games such as dominos.

Mr Stapleton said everyone at the church would be "absolutely delighted" at the news of her MBE. "We are thrilled for her."

Rev Chandler said: "It is thoroughly deserved. She has been involved in a wide range of activities over the years."

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I AM delighted for Margaret, who has worked tirelessly for Mencap for many years on a voluntary basis.

Margaret was instrumental in leading the fitting of a new kitchen at Trinity at the time of the refurbishment to enable the church to provide catering to a high standard. She has also arranged courses to enable church volunteers to achieve the necessary certificates of hygiene.

She was immensely proud recently to receive the maximum 'five-star' certification on behalf of Trinity from Fenland District Council.

As well as her catering commitments, Margaret has worked unflinchingly on behalf of the church 'Ways & Means' fundraising committee, raising money by organising and helping to organise events to enable the church to pay its bills and continue to offer worship and outreach to the local community.



I AM extremely proud of mum for all of her involvement over the years; in St Paul's Methodist Church, then Trinity Church, as Secretary for 2nd March Scouts and all the fundraising events for the Scout Hall (near Sainsbury's), through her work in Social Services, and more recently with MENCAP, the befriending scheme, Disability sports forum and the group at Whittlesey.

All through our childhood she has been involved in the community and putting others before herself, and we are proud of her and she deserves this honour.

Thank you to those nominated her.