THE first woman to chair one of Worcestershire’s biggest parish councils has spoken of her delight at being presented with a medal honouring her tireless work.

Joy Clee was a councillor on Kempsey Parish Council from 1972 until 2007.

In that time, she became the first woman to head the council, back in the 1990s and she reflected mischievously “you don’t know how recently it took to happen in Kempsey”.

Still a familiar face at the parish council’s monthly meetings – albeit in the public gallery – she speaks warmly of local democracy and her belief in it which is as strong as ever.

It is the reason colleagues and friends chose to recommended her for the newly reinstated British Empire Medal, which she jokingly refers to as “the street sweeper’s medal”, with a laugh.

Joking apart, the medal is a reflection of her 35 years at the millstone, in what one serving councillor called “tireless service”.

The 73-year-old former Ministry of Agriculture employee, of Brookend Lane, was born and has lived all her life in the village to which she has dedicated service.

She is also a former president of the Worcestershire County Association of Local Councils (CALC), which represents all town and parish councils and lobbies on their behalf on matters of collective interest.

The grandmother of four, who has a daughter in teaching and a son in the Army, said she was “humbled” at the recognition.

Speaking the day she found out she was to be awarded the medal, back in July, she said: “I believe so much in democracy and the fact that each person does count – each one has a voice and can be heard.

“I was just concerned that the village was a happy place and it had the services it needed.”

At a civic service at the Guildhall, Worcester, the BEM was presented to Mrs Clee by Worcestershire’s Deputy Lord Lieutenant Richard Webb.