A WOMAN who has devoted much of her spare time to promoting sport and netball in East Lancashire has received her New Year's Honour.

June Steele from Mellor Brook was given the British Empire Medal in a ceremony at the Shire Hall in Lancaster Castle.

The investiture was carried out by the Lord-Lieutenant of Lancashire Lord Shuttleworth.

Mrs Steele was a founder member of Blackburn with Darwen Sports Council in 1966 and remains its treasurer.

The 79-year-old also organised the Blackburn Netball League for three decades.

During a career as a probation officer she played netball for the Lancashire before taking on voluntary roles as a coach and administrator helping establish the netball centre at Witton Park.

Mrs Steele said: "I have had a wonderful life due to netball.

"When I received the letter about my honour I was very pleased but thought it must be a joke at first. I put it on the side and never told a soul until I told my husband on Christmas Day.

"There are so many people who do the same as me and don't get recognised. I would like to dedicate this award to George Kirby, a wonderful man who brought so many people through and never received national recognition."

Mr Kirby was a former president, chairman and at Blackburn Harriers Athletics Club. He died in November aged 95.

Lord Shuttleworth said: "It is a privilege and a pleasure to present this award to Mrs Steele on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen.

"She has made such a positive impact on so many people over a lifetime dedicated to helping others enjoy and benefit from the sport which she loves."

The BEM rewards a contribution of 'hands-on' service to the community.