Former Loughton teacher awarded BEM in Queen’s Honours

15th June 2021

A former teacher from Loughton, who has committed her life to bringing people together and helping those in need has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Joyce Obaseki has been awarded a British Empire Medal in recognition of her hard work and dedication after founding Grant a Smile six years ago.

She launched the not-for-profit after discovering that there was no support available for children like one of her pupils, who came to school in a dirty uniform because his mother, who had cancer, was too ill to provide him with clean clothes.

The boy was being bullied at school because of his unkempt appearance and Joyce became determined to give youngsters like him the help they need.

Grant A Smile gives free practical support for eligible families whose home life is affected by serious illness. They also try to grant special wishes for children and Joyce has set her sights on expanding the organisation’s work to help vulnerable and elderly people.

Joyce said, “I was so surprised when I heard I was to receive this award.  I had no idea I had been nominated and it was such a shock to get a letter from the Cabinet Office.  It gives recognition to the organisation and particularly our work during the pandemic.

“I want to thank everyone for helping us to stay consistent and keep our mission alive. I am so grateful to have such a wonderful team of volunteers who I believe are the true Smile Heroes.  I could not do the job without their support.”

Grant A Smile has also received a grant of £11,540 to support their work from the local independent charitable trust, Essex Community Foundation.

Caroline Taylor, chief executive of ECF, said: “Joyce is a real community champion and it is brilliant to see her get this recognition for all her hard work.  Working within her local community, Joyce and her team can identify and support people who are in need and quickly get them the help that they need.

“During the coronavirus pandemic, Grant A Smile had to prioritise their efforts to help the families in greatest need and we were pleased to support their vital work distributing food parcels in the Loughton area”.

For a full list of everyone who received an Award in Essex this year, click here.