A LONG-SERVING Salvation Army minister paid tribute to her town’s fighting spirit as she picked up her MBE.
Territorial Envoy Alison Sykes was at Buckingham Palace on Thursday receive the honour for her work with families in need in South Yorkshire.
She admitted it hadn’t sunk in yet, despite having learned of the award in June, and said she was accepting the gong on behalf of her community.
“I’m thrilled to be honoured in this way on behalf of my community, because this honour recognises the bravery of the families here who allow us into their lives to journey with them through their toughest times.
“I’m fortunate to have the privilege every day to be invited to be part of that journey and to provide love, support and guidance without judgment.
“People in Goldthorpe are fighters — they don’t give up.
“They keep trying no matter what knocks them back and what's lovely to see is the ripple effect of those who come to us for help who then go on to help their neighbours and others too.”
Mother-of-two Alison has lived in Goldthorpe for 22 years and has volunteered and worked in several roles supporting families — from running parent-and-toddler groups to schools and youth work.
The 44-year-old is currently the leader of Goldthorpe Salvation Army, which offers support from its church and community centre on Straight Lane.
Alison started volunteering for The Salvation Army 17 years ago, having attended the parent-and-toddler group and been encouraged by the former church ministers to become more involved.
She said: “I grew in confidence through the trust they placed in me, which led to me taking on more responsibility and eventually becoming the minister in charge three years ago.
“We all have God-given value and potential and by caring and loving people we can see them grow and flourish.
“Lives are changed at The Salvation Army every day over a cup of tea as people open up and invite us into their lives.
“All we do is built on a love for and a commitment to these families, providing time and space for people and being willing to help where we can.
“I’m proud of how far so many have come — it’s an encouragement and a healthy reminder that challenging circumstances can be turned around and by loving people it can and will happen and that's when we see lives transformed.”