HATS4HEROES founder Tina Selby has dedicated her British Empire Medal to the people of Penarth after she was rewarded in the New Year Honours.
Tina, 52, was presented with the accolade in recognition of her efforts sending more than 13,500 knitted hats to soldiers serving in Afghanistan.
Tina launched Hats4Heroes in 2009, with the original intention of sending out 500 knitted hats to Welsh troops to keep them warm during the winter months, but has gone on to send more than 13,500 hats after she was inundated with volunteers from around the world offering to help.
Throughout the campaign she has received letters of thanks from soldiers serving in Afghanistan, with many sending photos showing how popular the hats have been.
With each knitted hat Tina also sends a chocolate bar as a treat and to remind them of home.
Tina, of Grove Place, said she wasn’t expecting the award in the New Year Honours and found it all “overwhelming and a bit surreal”.
“I couldn’t have done this without the support of the people of Penarth and the Penarth Times,” she said.
“They have always come up trumps. It’s not my medal or all the knitters’ medal, it’s the people of Penarth’s medal. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
She added: “You don’t do these sorts of things expecting to get any recognition for it. It’s quite a proud moment.”
Tina, who has previously received parcels of knitted hats from the likes of Barbados, Spain and Cyprus, added: “It’s gone full circle as it all started when I sent a letter to the Penarth Times.
“The Penarth Times have been there all the way through, which has been lovely.”
She added that she never expected to send out more than 13,500 knitted hats and chocolate bars, but that she still had around 1,800 hats left to despatch before the last troops return home in December 2014.
“I have slowed all the knitters down as they are withdrawing the troops soon,” she said.
“This has been a lovely way to finish it.
“It’s still ongoing though until my front room is empty. This is the first year I have managed to put up my Christmas tree in the front room, as ever since 2009 it has been full of boxes of knitted hats.”
Tina said she will be presented with the medal locally, before she is invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace next summer.
“I’m going to have to get a new frock,” she said.