New Year Honours: OBE for heroine of the Sheffield floods

OBE: Christine Manby.
OBE: Christine Manby.
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AN EMERGENCY volunteer who led teams to action when freak floods swept South Yorkshire has been awarded the OBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours.

Former teacher Christine Manby, from Sheffield, who co-ordinated Women’s Royal Voluntary Service teams in emergencies, said she was “amazed” by the news.

She joins Barnsley umpire Dickie Bird, Doncaster taekwondo world champion Sarah Stevenson, diminutive comic Ronnie Corbett, and breakfast TV star Lorraine Kelly among the names on the illustrious list.

Come fire or flood, Christine has been a service stalwart for 20 years, and is now a senior instructor and deputy organiser for the WRVS in South Yorkshire.

Christine, who had been sworn to secrecy over her honour until today, told The Star: “I was absolutely taken aback to get the OBE, I thought it was unbelievable.

“I read the letter several times and was just amazed it should happen to me.”

It was 1992 when Christine first responded to a radio plea from the WRVS. She started working on luncheon clubs but soon became deputy organiser for Sheffield.

Over the years she has taken on regional and area titles, and in emergencies co-ordinates volunteers who help people hit by tragedy.

And when heavy downpours caused flooding which consumed South Yorkshire in the summer of 2007, Christine led teams of over 200 to deliver food to homes cut off by water, and take public donations.

She also oversaw the running of packed rest centres for displaced evacuees at Sheffield Arena, the Town Hall and Sheffield Hallam University.

More recently she helped set up emergency accommodation for people forced to leave their Hillsborough homes after a fire at a garage where an acetylene cylinder was stored.

Training hundreds of volunteers, and working with other emergency organisations, also saw her receive the Prime Minister’s Award for outstanding service in 2008.

Christine, of Hallam Grange Crescent, Fulwood, said: “I enjoy what I do because it is working with teams of volunteers that are always magnificent. They are there at the end of the phone and, unless they are in really difficult times, they will respond and just put things to one side.

“I never fail to be overwhelmed by their responses.”

Christine receives her OBE for services to the voluntary sector. Paul Taylor, WRVS’s service delivery manager for the Sheffield area, said: “Over the years Christine has responded generously with her time and effort to deal with both minor and significant emergencies.

“We are very happy to see her work rewarded and want to thank Christine - and all our volunteers - for their valuable work and commitment.”