Alwen Lyons, who volunteers every Thursday in the Riding Therapy Unit, was recognised in the New Years Honours list for services to the Post Office and Equality and Diversity. Alwen has been volunteering at Ferring Country Centre since November. She retired in September 2017 after 33 years at the Post Office fulfilling many different roles, which included leading the project to separate Post Office from Royal Mail Group in 2011 and setting up the new Board of Directors.

During her time at the Post Office Alwen recognised that not enough was being done to challenge the lack of women in senior jobs, so she set up coaching and mentoring programmes to ensure women reached their full potential.

After focussing on the women in the organistaion for over 10 years, and seeing a real change in the gender make up of senior roles, Alwen then widened the focus to include disability awareness and an LGBT+ group. 'If people are supported to achieve their full potential the results are amazing, and this benefits a business as well as the individuals'. This resulted in several awards for the Post Office for equality and diversity.

Alwen says it was a complete surprise to receive the letter from the Palace to tell her she had been award an OBE, 'it was a complete shock when the letter came, it was very hard to keep it a secret!' The award was announced on New Years Eve. I went to the Palace on the 6th June with my husband and two children. It is a bit strange to drive up to Buckingham Palace and the gates open for you. My OBE was presented by HRH Prince Charles and during my conversation with him I told him about my volunteering at Ferring.

So why do I volunteer? Since retiring and not having to commute up to London every day, I have some time to do things that I think are important. I volunteer for three organisations, Ferring Country Centre, Riding for the Disabled at Arundel, and Worthing Churches Homeless Project. All are very different. But I am working with some fantastic people and having fun whilst doing a little bit to help.