Cranham grandmother is awarded British Empire Medal for 'Shirley's tours'
PUBLISHED: 12:00 27 June 2015
A grandmother who has been organising fun trips and outings to raise funds for schools, groups and clubs for 32 years has been awarded the British Empire Medal.
Trips abroad, tickets to West End shows and fun days out are just some of the fundraisers Christine Ward – better known as Shirley – has organised.
The grandmother-of-three, who has raised money for schools and groups as well as the Parish Church of All Saints, Cranham, was recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
Shirley, 67, from Cranham, said: “I was really quite surprised that I was nominated and even more so when I found out I was going to be receiving the award.
“It’s very exciting and I’m really looking forward to the big day when I actually receive it.”
Shirley started organising fundraisers when her eldest son was a pupil at James Oglethorpe Primary School, in Upminster, as a way of contributing along with the other parents.
She said: “I had a young baby at this time so I didn’t want to be roped into anything which meant I had to be away from home a lot.
“So I ended up volunteering to organise trips to raise money for the school and from my first trip we made a small profit.
“The school then set up a magazine and the editor started calling me Shirley Tours, as that’s my middle name, and from then on it just stuck!”
She went on to raise money for her son’s secondary school – Hall Mead School, in Upminster – as well as his scout group – the 1st Cranham All Saints Scout Group – and has so far made more than £50,000 for all of them.
Shirley has arranged trips from a day out at London Zoo to a week-long cruise in Turkey, inviting hundreds of people who have been eager to tag along over three decades.
She said: “I try to come up with different ideas so they appeal to a lot of people rather than just a specific age range.
“I also go on all of the trips so I’ve been very lucky experiencing so many things.”
Shirley will receive her BEM later this year at the Tower of London.
She said: “I enjoy what I do because I get to meet lots of interesting people and organise trips for them that will soon become great memories.”