A REDDITCH woman who has dedicated years of her life to developing sports activities for people in Redditch with disabilities has been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.

Elaine Daykin, aged 58, formed Special Olympics Redditch (SOR) in 1993, when the Worcestershire Special Olympics group became extremely large, with too many people wanting to join.

A support worker for Mencap, Mrs Daykin wanted to set up an individual group for Redditch in response to the lack of after school activities and community support for children and adults with special needs.

SOR is a fully voluntary operated group that provides year round sports training and competition opportunities for people with learning disabilities.

For more than two decades as secretary, gymnastics head coach and new age kurling coach at SOR, Mrs Daykin has operated training sessions for participants and over the years has raised more than £250,000 through the events she has organised to help SOR survive and pursue its goal of giving those who may be less fortunate an opportunity to be socially included and take part in sport.

Thanks to Mrs Daykin's efforts, SOR is the only club in the West Midlands accredited with the prestigious Sports England Clubmark.

In 2009, she won the Special Olympics Volunteer of the Year Outstanding Contribution Award for the West Midlands and in 2011 she received The Mayor of Redditch’s Annual Award for outstanding contribution to the community in recognition for her work with the SOR charity.

The British Empire Medal, which was formally known as the British Empire Medal for Meritorious Service, is a British medal awarded for meritorious civil or military service worthy of recognition by the Crown. It was established in 1922 to replace the Medal of the Order of the British Empire for Meritorious Service.

On hearing of the BEM honour, Mrs Daykin, who was nominated for the award by Redditch MP Karen Lumley, said: "I was overwhelmed but so excited when I heard the news. It really is such an honour to be told you are to receive this award.

"When I started Redditch Special Olympics, there was just six local school children taking part, now we have nearly 50 members. I never imagined it would get this big and be enjoyed by so many people. It has been absolutely wonderful."

She said the

Mrs Lumley added: “I was delighted to be able to nominate Elaine for all her hard work with the Redditch Special Olympics over many years.

“It is a great pleasure to be a patron of the Redditch Special Olympics and I see at first hand the dedication Elaine has put into the organisation.

“Hopefully when Elaine travels to London to collect her award she will have time to meet me so that I can congratulate her personally.”

SOR welcomes people with learning disabilities aged from eight upwards, and there is no upper age limit. To find out about getting involved with the organisation, call Mrs Daykin on 01527 542831 or visit specialolympicsredditch.org.uk.