A Beckley woman has spoken of her ‘very surreal and humbling experience’ after receiving an MBE at Buckingham Palace.
Tracy Barnett MBE received the award from Prince Charles for her contribution to the Royal Mail and to voluntary service at home and abroad.
Friends and family watched as she was officially presented her MBE on Friday (February 3), a feeling she says is still sinking in.
The honour comes as recognition of her work as the co-founder and chairperson of the Building and Assisting Communities with Education charity (BACE), a registered charity based in Beckley.
Tracy said: “I was absolutely daunted by it all, it was very exciting and I was very proud. There has been a lot of people on the journey.
“It was very humbling, about five minutes before [receiving the MBE] it hit me that I would be meeting the future king.”
BACE – set up in 2011 - is a volunteer-led charity establishing and supporting community projects in remote parts of the Gambia, helping to establish education and health services in rural areas.
Speaking about how the charity was created, Tracy said: “I was travelling out there with other charity groups until 2011, when I thought, let’s start our own.
“There were places that did not have anything. We got offered some land to build a school and it all started from there.”
The charity has already funded and built a nursery school used by 100 children ranging from three to seven years old, who would have otherwise had to walk six miles to their nearest school.
In November 2014, the trustees, along with volunteers from the UK, opened a BACE healthcare clinic offering essential health treatment and safe maternity care for more than 20,000 local villagers.
To date the charity has raised more than £200,000 through grants, events and an individual donor campaign towards projects in the Gambia.
The charity plans to continue to expand and develop their services to ensure all of the students and their wider families have the best possible chance of achieving their goals in life.
The former Robertsbridge school pupil was also the chairperson for the Oliver Curd Trust from 2009 to 2013.
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