SHE has long been known and admired as a community-spirited human dynamo in the Cross Green area of Leeds.
And now 67-year-old Mary Brennan’s work on behalf of others has earned her a richly-deserved place on the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
She receives the British Empire Medal as recognition for her involvement with initiatives including the Cross Green Growing Together gardening project and a weekly lunch club for vulnerable people that operates at St Hilda’s Church.
Mary, who lives in Cross Green, told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “It’s a nice surprise – and a bit of a shock as well! It’s really a reward for the whole area. Cross Green is a very diverse community and this shows what can be achieved when we all pull together.”
There was also recognition for Phil Gomersall, 72, from Rawdon, who receives the British Empire Medal for services to horticulture.
Phil is president of the National Allotment Society and is also involved with groups such as the Leeds Allotments Federation and Rawdon in Bloom.
He said: “I am over the moon, I really am. I hope this will help to bring allotments back to the fore – I have been working to publicise them for 20-odd years now.” Phil said he had kept his big news secret for the last six weeks and even managed to resist the temptation to tell the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall when he met them at the Royal Cornwall Show on Thursday.
An MBE goes to Lorraine Long, from Tingley, near Leeds, for services to children and families. Lorraine, who celebrated her 59th birthday yesterday, has been a foster carer with Leeds City Council for 36 years and during that time has looked after more than 300 children and young people. She said: “I actually put the letter down because I thought it was a hoax! Once I read it and realised it was real, though, I was very pleased. I’m a foster carer because I want to give the kids a better life and make them aware they are a valued member of society. It’s amazing to get this kind of recognition for doing it.”
Three academics at the University of Leeds receive OBEs, with Prof Denise Bower being recognised for services to the engineering and construction industries, Prof Anne-Maree Keenan for services to podiatry and Prof Paul Emery for services to rheumatology.