DENISE Sage from Minehead said she thought it was a joke when she found out she had been awarded a British Empire Medal.

The 67-year-old was awarded the prestigious medal in the Queen’s New Year Honours List for her efforts at the visitors’ centre in Porlock.

Denise has worked at the centre for 16 years. She said: “I found out about two months ago and I think the fact I’ve kept it quiet for so long is what surprised everyone the most.

“It was difficult for me to keep a secret.

“I have no idea who nominated me, I’ve had phone calls all morning, it’s so lovely.”

Denise added that one of the first things her husband said to her was to make sure it didn’t go to her head.

“The irony for me is that I find it a privilege to live here and to do my job.

“This award isn’t for me, it’s a team award because we all work together, and it’s what makes Porlock so special.

“It was a great surprise when I found out and I did think it was a joke at first, there are far more deserving people but I’m really pleased.”