A CHARITY stalwart who has dedicated decades to the Clacton community has been honoured with a British Empire Medal in the Queen’s birthday honours list.

Brenda Ellis, who is chairman of Community Voluntary Services Tendring, has been helping charities and individuals for almost 40 years.

She was inspired to help people after joining a school parent teacher association.

The mother-of-two and grandmother-of-three said she comes from a family of community-minded and caring people – and it is that ethos has driven her to help others.

Brenda, who lives in Clacton, said: “When I got the letter about the BEM, I felt completely embarrassed about it.

“There are so many people that do a great job who are out there working hard and supporting the community, that I considered turning it down – it was such a shock.

“To me, it’s about what Community Voluntary Services Tendring does and the other organisations I’m a part of.”

In the late 80s Brenda joined the Clacton Spastic Society as a trustee and would also help the Clacton Hospital League of Friends where her mother volunteered.

She later became chairman, helping to raise funds for the hospital.

In 1997, Brenda and the then headteacher of Clacton County High School, John Clay, launched the Christmas Day Lunch.

The event served dinner to more than a hundred people each year, with the help of numerous volunteers.

Brenda said: “After a few years John wanted to retire, and it was then we took it on as a family.

“We ran it for about 20 years a- it was always such a lovely day.”

Clacton Rotary Club took over the dinner, but Brenda and her family felt lost at home on Christmas so instead began a Christmas lunch for bereaved residents until Covid-19.

Brenda has helped many organisations over the years, including being chairman of the Clacton Concert Orchestra and briefly chairman of Clacton’s Age Concern, and she also founded the Clacton Bereavement and Friendship Club, “I’ve had an amazing life and an amazing support network so I felt it’s right I should put something back,” she added.