AN 87-year-old volunteer has received a British Empire Medal for her decades of work.

Retired teacher Joyce Taylor, from Great Lumley, near Chester-le-Street has been a volunteer at Durham Cathedral for 32 years.

She was named in the New Year’s Honours list but has been unable to travel to London because of ill health.

Instead, her colleagues at the cathedral, including Dean of Durham Andrew Tremlett, attended a gathering, where she was presented with the medal by Lord-Lieutenant Sue Snowdon.

Miss Taylor, who is also a member of the congregation at Christ Church, Great Lumley, said: “I’m amazed. I never looked for any kind of reward.

“The cathedral has always been important to me. I was confirmed here in 1947 and when I was a student I came to the cathedral a lot.

“When I retired after teaching for 32 years, having lived by timetables for all my life. I realised I needed some structure.”

Miss Taylor, who trained as a teacher at Durham University, taught geography at schools around the county before retiring in 1986, when she first started at the cathedral.

Marie Wisson, volunteers manager at the cathedral said: “Joyce is a truly lovely and selfless lady, who would never seek recognition or kudos of any kind.

“She has given so much time and energy for the benefit of others and is loved and admired by those who have the privilege of knowing her. “