‘I thought it was a hoax’: Dolly’s delight at New Year’s honour

Minnie Newcombe, 86, known as Dolly, of Barton Turf has been awarded a British Empire Medal in the N

Minnie Newcombe, 86, known as Dolly, of Barton Turf has been awarded a British Empire Medal in the New Year's Honours.Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Her attitude to village volunteering is all about 'giving something back'.

So it should come as no surprise that Minnie Newcombe (known as Dolly) reacted to news of her British Empire Medal by saying: 'I thought it was a hoax.'

The humble 86-year-old, from Barton Turf, near Stalham, was named as a recipient of the BEM in today's New Year's Honours.

The award was made for 'services to the community in Barton Turf and Neatishead'. And the services to be taken into consideration are considerable.

For the octogenarian was, as treasurer of Neatishead Village Hall committee for 20 years, one of the driving forces behind the project to develop a new hall.

The project stalled on many occasions, but the energy of Mrs Newcombe and others kept the campaign rolling. And in September 2009 Victory Hall opened.

Mrs Newcombe, who moved to Barton Turf from Essex when her late husband George retired 30-plus years ago, has also long been a member of Neatishead, Barton Turf and District WI, of which she was president and is currently vice-president.

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And she still had time to fit in more than 20 years as secretary of Barton Turf, Irstead and Neatishead Gardening Club.

Mrs Newcombe said: 'I can't believe the British Empire Medal. I thought it was a hoax. It's so unexpected, and I feel there's so many people who deserve it more than I do.'

Asked why she did so much for local organisations, she said: 'I had time, and it was time to give something back. I believe in doing what you can.

'Whenever we've had a function, I like to make sure people get value for money. And when someone sees me coming, they know it's going to cost them some time.'

She added: 'I love it here. People are so friendly. If you want to join in, you can join in. If you don't, it doesn't matter.'