A crafty quilter from Hemel Hempstead has made it on to the New Year Honours list, as well as the roll of honour at the Queen’s garden party next summer.
Irene Heathcote, 63, of Grovehill, was the driving force behind a colossal Olympic project which aimed to produce a pennant for every athlete competing in the London 2012 Games, and ended up inspiring hundreds of people in Dacorum as well as others in countries across the world.
She is now in line to receive a British Empire Medal at County Hall next year for services to arts and crafts through Quilts4London, but she is also excited at the prospect of visiting Buckingham Palace as part of the honour.
Irene, who is still regularly crafting with a group friends, said: “I was quite shocked to find out about it actually, I didn’t expect anything like that. It is just nice that, although it is being given to me, it is recognition of what the whole project achieved. About 500 local children took part and we also had contributions from 12 different countries.
“We did get a bit of feedback from some athletes and a couple of the countries involved. Now I have been invited to the garden party at Buckingham Palace too, which is very exciting.”
Irene’s project managed to collect 17,000 handmade pennants from 15,000 people in total for athletes competing in the Olympics, Paralympics and Special Olympics, and in 2013 she was presented with the Voluntary Arts Epic Award for England.
Quilts4London was also honoured with a permanent plaque in the Olympic Park’s Copper Box.
Also joining Irene on the honours roll call is charity fundraiser of almost 35 years Martin Crownhurst, of Gadebridge, and Northchurch-based Hospice of St Francis Director Doctor Ros Taylor who will receive an MBE for her services to hospice care.