AYLESBURY, UK (BNC) by Steve Whitehead — Joyce Rutter, a long-standing Christian of the Mandeville Road congregation has been awarded the British Empire Medal for her voluntary work with Cancer Research.

Joyce is is no stranger to being recognised for her achievements and good deeds. In 2015, her commitment to volunteering for Cancer Research UK earned her the prestigious Flame of Hope Award as National ‘Shop Volunteer of the Year’. This is awarded for outstanding support and dedication to their shop, an ability to work with, and lead fellow volunteers, and a willingness to tackle anything that comes along.

Reading her citation Deputy Lieutenant Carolyn Cumming said, “Courage is a quality Joyce has needed on more than one occasion in her life. Joyce left Yorkshire when she was a child and continued her schooling in Essex where she excelled in mathematics. In 1970, she arrived in Aylesbury as a single mum with responsibility for four young boys and had to find work. Luckily, she had experience in office work and as she herself explains, ‘had a good head for figures’. She took a job at Askeys, which was to prove long-lasting, but in 1979 she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“Thanks to the work of Cancer Research, the survival rates for breast cancer have been vastly improved so it is perhaps easy to forget just how much lower were the chances of surviving it back in 1979. Happily, Joyce did. She returned to work and only retired from Askeys at the age of 70 in 2000. “Her voluntary help has not been confined solely to shop based activities. Cancer Research UK reaches out nationally with such high profile events as Race for Life and Wear it Pink, the latter specifically for Breast Cancer. Both involve extra voluntary hours, be it out and about collecting or turning the street pink! Needless to say, Joyce lends her support and expertise on all of these occasions.”

Speaking after the ceremony, Sir Henry Aubrey-Fletcher said: “The British Empire Medal is only awarded to the most exemplary candidates and these … embody everything it represents. They have tirelessly devoted their lives to helping others in their local communities in a variety of different ways. The one thing they have in common is their dedication and commitment. On behalf of HM The Queen, I heartily applaud each and every one of them – well done!”

The British Empire Medal is awarded for civil or military service worthy of recognition by the Crown and was first created in 1922.

This story was first published in Christian Worker, a monthly news magazine for congregations in the UK. It is here republished with permission.