GIGGLESWICK’s Stephanie Phillip has been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in The Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Stephanie, 79, has received her award for services to dance and musical theatre.

For over the past 50 years she has combined her skills and love of the arts with a drive to use voluntary work to enrich the lives of those in her community.

Her exceptional contribution and significant commitment of time, has had a positive impact on many hundreds of people of all ages as her programmes provide exercise, skill development and social opportunities across villages in North Yorkshire.

She has always loved musical theatre and, while studying at the Royal Academy of Dance in her youth, saw such great shows as Oliver, My Fair Lady and Fiddler on the Roof in the West End, with their original casts.

“It was such a shock and a surprise and above all, such a great honour to have been nominated,” said Stephanie.

“I did receive an email a few weeks ago but as I didn’t recognise the address I didn’t open it. It wasn’t until a couple of weeks later I received a phone call from the Cabinet office asking me to complete the email as it was in relation to my nomination. I just sat on the bed and shook. I was totally overawed and so thrilled.” she said.

In 1971, she re-introduced the May Day celebrations at the village of Long Preston and has maintained the success of this community celebration as it enters its 50th anniversary. However, Covid temporarily stopped the maypole dancing but hopes it can be revived for next year.

Stephanie played a pivotal role on the founding committee, and having passed this responsibility to new committees, has spent many months each year training local children in maypole and country dancing.

She was choreographer and producer in the annual productions of the Settle Amateur Operatic Society (SOAS) and still sits on the fundraising committee. As part of this role she is particularly noted for her dedication to raising funds and since 1990 has been instrumental in keeping the historic Victoria Hall theatre open, including raising £20,000 through her monthly Charity Tea Dance events.

She has been a member of the National Operatic and Dramatic Association for 50 years, passionately representing Settle Amateur Operatic Society.

“I have always thought that working with the operatic society was group therapy where you can take some time out from normal life. I will be eternally grateful for the opportunities I have been allowed,” she added.

She voluntarily teaches dance and music to pupils with disabilities providing a valuable and safe environment to build confidence and physical skills.

She served as a dance teacher as part of the Northern Dance Centre teaching pupils of all ages in and around the Dales from 1962 to 2011.