A 73-year-old grandmother has been awarded a British Empire Medal for services to charity and the community of Grange-over-Sands.

Joan Bentley has devoted 51 years of her life to volunteering as a flower arranger-demonstrator and helper for various groups and charities across the Lake District.

“I have no idea why I’ve been given this award and I’m just gobsmacked.

“I’ve always done a bit of charity work and started years ago when my children were in Brownies.

“Since my husband died five years ago I like to keep myself busy, and after having received support then it’s nice to give something back,” she said.

The mother-of-three, who owned Grasmere Jewellers and Engravers for 40 years, has volunteered at the Priory Church at Cartmel since 1973 where she has organised two flower festivals.

For the same number of years she has been involved as a volunteer with the local WI and has held many roles, serving on the committee, as president and is now group convenor for the Cartmel Valley Group.

And since 1983 she has been a volunteer for the local NSPCC where her flower demonstrations have helped to fundraise.

“It’s flowers that has woven through my life, and my interest in plants and the garden has given me a lot of pleasure.

“I started out doing church flowers and the numbers at a school in Grasmere were dropping so the head decided to have different classes where I taught,” continued Mrs Bentley.

She has also delivered Meals on Wheels for the last 30 years and volunteers once a week for St Mary's Hospice in their Grange shop.