CHRISTINE Burden has dedicated her life to making life better for lonely older people.

In 10 years, she has turned a small coffee morning in East Oxford with a handful of regulars into a weekly lifeline for pensioners.

But Mrs Burden, of Meadow Lane, will become an MBE for her volunteer work in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, insists she is just a ‘normal person’.

The 64-year-old set up the Sweet Memories Club, at the Gladiator Club in Iffley Road, Oxford, in 2000 after she realised there was nowhere for older people to meet new friends.

Since then Mrs Burden said the group, which now regularly draws more than 70 members, has become ‘one big happy family’.

Everyone who walks through the door is greeted with a cuddle and a cup of tea by Mrs Burden who lays on raffles, bingo, special talks, and outings for the members.

The grandmother of two said she was shocked to be named.

Mrs Burden said: “I couldn’t believe it really. I am just a normal person.

“I am just passionate about helping older people and making sure they aren’t lonely.

“They seem to be all too often forgotten.”

A team of seven dedicated volunteers help Mrs Burden run the coffee morning each week.

Mrs Burden said: “I think of them as my big extended family. That is how I would describe Sweet Memories – a big happy family.”

The Sweet Memories coffee morning runs every Thursday between 9.30am and noon for anyone over 65.