A BEWDLEY Rotarian has been honoured with the highest accolade possible from the international organisation for his work in building schools for poverty-stricken Romanian gipsy children.

David Drackley has been awarded the Paul Harris Fellowship in appreciation of his "tangible and significant assistance given for the furtherance of better understanding and friendly relationships among the peoples of the world."

He said: "When it was announced I was totally shocked and gobsmacked.

"It is amazing when you are rewarded for something you love doing.

"It was the best Christmas present I could have had.

"It really is an award for the whole club because I could not have done it without their help," said Mr Drackley, of St John's Avenue, Kidderminster.

He has been involved in helping the Romanian gipsies for nearly 10 years and Bewdley Rotary Club has raised thousands of pounds to help build a school as part of Project Ruth, a charitable Christian Trust that provides education, humanitarian and caring resources for needy children.

The club and individual members, including Mr Drackley, also sponsor the education of 10 children at the school, which has been open for about three years.

He and the club, along with partners at Wollaston Free Church, are now busy fund-raising to build a second school for older children in the gipsy quarter, which should be open by September.

"It will also provide the children with a daily meal and some clothing and the school will incorporate a medical centre and a hygiene centre with washing machines for families to use.

"The authorities in Romania hold up the Ruth school as something to emulate.

"It is hoped that by giving these children an education it will enable them to find jobs or go on to higher education," added Mr Drackley.

Having undertaken a number of trips to Romania by himself and with the Wollaston church, Mr Drackley is now organising the first trip by Bewdley Rotarians to see the school, which will take place in April.