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MBE makes birthday one to cherish for Walsall volunteer

By David Banner | Walsall | News | Published:

“It was definitely a birthday to remember.”

Linda Clark with the Duke of Cambridge

That is how Linda Clark summed up marking her 67th birthday with a trip to Buckingham Palace to pick up her MBE.

Miss Clark, from Walsall, was awarded her honour by the Duke of Cambridge.

She has been rewarded for voluntary work including three decades of service as a magistrate and her efforts with charities.

And Miss Clark said she certainly will be forget celebrating her 67th birthday at the palace.

It was actually her second trip to the royal residence, five years after her husband Phillip Holmes received an MBE himself in 2012.

Miss Clark, who lives in the Orchard Hills Estate, in Walsall, said: “It was an amazing day, it really was.

“I have been to the palace before, when my husband received his award five years ago.

“I knew what to expect but it was extra special because it was my birthday as well – it was definitely a birthday to remember.

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“I think I’ll struggle to better that one.

“The Duke of Cambridge was really nice. He wanted to know what volunteering I had done.”

During her three decades as a magistrate, Miss Clark has presided over thousands of cases at courts across the Black Country.

In fact, she met her husband – a fellow magistrate – on the bench.

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The retired BT worker has made the most of her spare time, also volunteering with the Kissing It Better charity, which takes dogs into hospitals to support children undergoing procedures and their families.

Miss Clark has also worked at the Staffordshire Regiment Museum on a voluntary basis for the last 25 years and is a school governor at Shepwell School, near Walsall’s Manor Hospital.

Miss Clark said: “It’s wonderful to think you can do these things to help other people.

“It really is nice to be in a position to help others.” Kissing It Better has two therapy dogs who go into the children’s wards and prove a distraction for children who are undergoing procedures or operations.

Miss Clark said: “They are such a comfort for the children, staff and parents. It can prove particularly difficult for the parents when their children are in hospital.”

Dog lover Miss Clark also help look after retired West Midlands Police dogs along with Mr Holmes, a former deputy headteacher, who was awarded the MBE for services to the community in 2012.

Mr Holmes started his teaching career at the old TP Riley School in Bloxwich, and was deputy head at Wood Green, Wednesbury, for 21 years.

He became a JP in 1986 and then chairman of the bench in Walsall before stepping down in 2010. He met Miss Clark at the court.

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