An 80-year-old Storrington stalwart ‘sat down and cried’ with joy after learning she had been awarded an MBE by the Queen.
‘Sylvia Hyams was ‘completely amazed’ and ‘touched’ for making the 2013 New Year Honours List for ‘Services to Charity and to the community in Storrington’.
The grandmother of six said: “When I heard about the nomination I was completely amazed, very surprised and touched.
“I was overwhelmed by people’s kindness and quite daunted by the prospect of not letting people down.”
A familiar face amongst many residents of Storrington, Mrs Hyams helps with the Storrington mini-bus, the combined churches Sunday lunch club, the monthly pop-in lunch club, working as a Lay Minister at St Mary’s Parish Church and chairman of the Storrington Community Market.
However, Mrs Hyams’ first step into the world of fund-raising and community support began with the launch of the world’s first children’s hospice, Helen & Douglas House in 1982.
Mrs Hyams explained: “I saw a short television interview with Sister Frances Dominica on the BBC many years ago.
“My husband and I understood the difficulties of losing a child and thought that the idea of a hospice such as this was very necessary.
“So I decided to recycle old birthday cards and sell them to my friends in aid of Helen House and they all cooperated.”
After her late husband, David, retired, Mrs Hyams moved from London to Storrington and her endeavours snowballed.
“We were amazed at the enthusiasm and generosity of all the Storrington residents and the endless support that they gave us.”
Son, David Leonard Hyams, 49, believes the MBE is ‘thoroughly deserved’.
He said: “She genuinely works for other people without expecting praise or thanks
“She spends a lot of her time visiting neighbours and residents who are sick and doing their shopping, sometimes forgetting that she’s 80 herself.”