THREE Ryedale women who have dedicated their lives to helping organisations in the community have been awarded with MBEs.

Jean Thorpe, Jean Kershaw and Elaine Dowell were presented with their awards by Prince Charles at a formal ceremony at Buckingham Palace in honour of their outstanding work.

Jean Thorpe founded Ryedale Wildlife Rehabilitation whilst Jean Kershaw received the MBE for founding Helmsley Arts Centre. Since it began in 1983 Jean has volunteered from five to six days a week to create lasting legacies such as the centres classical music programme.

Elaine Dowell founded the Encephalitis Society after her son became ill with the condition in 1991 at the age of seven. The society, based in Malton, is due to celebrate its 20th anniversary this year.

Elaine said that to receive an MBE for her work was fantastic and that together, the three ladies had a very special day.

She said: "One of the main things to me was bout raising the awareness of Encephalitis so to receive an MBE for it is really very important for me.

"It was a wonderful day. You don't get to go to many formal events where you have to get dressed up and put on a hat so that made it even more special for us. It was very special to walk up the path many famous people have walked before."

With friends and family watching, the three women joined others receiving their awards where they all had one particular part of the day worrying them.

She said: "I was with all of the other ladies who were receiving their MBEs which was great but the one thing we were most worried about was the curtsy.

"We all stood there practicing our curtsy and everything else paled in significance to that really."

Elaine worked for the Encephalitis Society for 18 years before retiring in 2012. She is now a Trustee for Camphill Families and Friends and an advisor to Encephalitis Global based in America.