TWO community stalwarts have been awarded the Rotary organisation’s highest accolade for their “inspirational” voluntary work.

Jill Miller, of Thirsk, and Rose Woods, of Coxwold, have been presented with Paul Harris Fellowships by the Thirsk Rotary Club for more than 40 years of fundraising between them.

The pair were nominated for the honour by members to the Rotary Club Council, which unanimously approved that they should be recognised.

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The only other joint recipients of the award from the club have been Thirsk Party in the Park organisers Jane Burgess and Sue Calvert, for their work with Action Medical Research.

Since moving to the area about 20 years ago, Mrs Woods has worked for a variety of good causes including Martin House Hospice for children in Boston Spa, Henshaw's Society for blind people, the Rutson Hospital, in Northallerton, Action Medical Research and the Thirsk community minibus.

In recent years, she has been devoted to raising money for Hearing Dogs for the Deaf and has and provided funding for the training of eight puppies.

Rotarian Tony Jordan said Mrs Woods, who received her award at The Foresters Arms, in Kilburn, said: “Rose has been a truly great inspiration to me.”

Estate agent Mrs Miller was nominated for the award by Rotarian Stevie Webster, for her work with Thirsk and District Business Association to maintain and improve the Christmas lights over 20 years.

The Rotary Club said Mrs Miller, who was presented with her award at The Golden Fleece, in Thirsk, had organised countless events to raise the thousands of pounds needed to make the town centre attractive to shoppers during the festive season.

A spokesman for the club said without Mrs Miller’s dedication to organising events such as an annual dinner-dance, the Diamond Jubilee celebration, summer barbecues and quiz nights, the local economy would have been less vibrant.

Her fund raising efforts have also benefited several local charities, including Herriot Hospice Homecare and the Lambert Hospital, Thirsk.

Mrs Miller said while she felt embarrassed about receiving the award, she was grateful to have been recognised.

She said: “I love what I do and Thirsk is very important to me.”