Christine Manby, senior instructor and deputy organiser for South Yorkshire at the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service, answered an appeal for volunteers in response to the first Gulf War.
That project did not materialise and instead her WRVS career began organising luncheon clubs for the elderly nearly 20 years ago.
It was a role she combined with her work as a part-time special needs teacher, but by 1996 she was the area emergency services manager for South Yorkshire, and was emergency services manager for the East Midlands and South Yorkshire by 2000.
In this role she co-ordinated the WRVS teams sent to the site of the Selby rail crash at Great Heck in 2001, where they looked after and fed relatives, the emergency services and recovery teams.
The 2007 floods saw Mrs Manby leading efforts to provide welfare and support such as food, bedding and other provisions to residents who had been evacuated.
The WRVS had 200 volunteers working across 14 rest centres in the region, providing 1,000 hours of unpaid work.
The mother-of-four, who gave up her teaching role in 2006 because of her volunteering commitments, has grown used to being on call, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Since September last year she has also found time to work as a volunteer for the Crown Court Witness Support Service.
Mrs Manby said of her work with the WRVS: “I’ve always been really pleased to be part of them because I’ve had a lot of diverse opportunities and they’ve given me a lot of training over the years and that’s splendid.”
She also said the award brought mixed emotions because her parents were no longer alive to see it.
“I saw this letter and I thought I don’t believe it because it was really out of the blue,” she added.
“I felt excited and a tinge of sadness because it would have been nice to have been able to tell my parents.
“But my family will be very excited I’m sure.”