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Lunch club founder dished up an honour





EVEN the best laid plans can have a comic twist as Stratford charity champion, Jo Wheelwright-Horne, found out when she telephoned the Cabinet Office in London to see if anyone there wanted to make a booking for the next Sunday Lunch Club meeting which she was arranging only to be told by the Office she’d been awarded a British Empire Medal in the 2023 New Year Honours List.

The news came as a total surprise to Jo, aged 58, who has raised £82,000 over the last six years for charity. All she knew was her daughter – Grace – insisted Jo make the call and provided her mum with a telephone number to ring.

Jo Wheelwright-Horne pictured celebrating the award of her BEM this week. Photo: Mark Williamson. (61661153)
Jo Wheelwright-Horne pictured celebrating the award of her BEM this week. Photo: Mark Williamson. (61661153)

“My daughter called me when my husband – Alex - and I were at a garden centre. It was the 14th December and Grace just said you’ve got to call this woman on this number and I kept asking ‘who is she – is it to do with the lunch club?’ But Grace kept saying ‘mum, you need to ‘phone this woman’ so I did and I asked her if she wanted to make a booking for the next lunch club on 18th December? The lady who I was told to ring – had a little laugh to herself - and then said she was from the Cabinet Office and that I’d been awarded a New Year Honour to which I just replied ‘pardon?’ I really couldn’t speak properly and said to Alex straight afterwards, ‘you’ll never guess what?’ In the end I had to ‘phone the woman again to check I’d understood her correctly and she confirmed I’d been awarded a British Empire Medal for services to the community in Stratford.”



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