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Dedicated senior citizens' group leader awarded British Empire Medal

Josephine De Bono, who was named in the Queen's Birthday Honours list, has been hailed "an outstanding member of the community"

Josephine De Bono who was awarded a British Empire Medal with husband Paul

A community-spirited resident who runs a senior citizens' group in Aldershot features in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.

Josephine De Bono, 72, who has managed the Friends of North Town for nearly 30 years, has been awarded a British Empire Medal.

She provides bingo sessions and arranges day trips for older people.

Speaking to Get Hampshire about the accolade, Mrs De Bono, of North Lane in Aldershot, said: "For me it is the biggest honour anyone can get.

"I never expected anything like this, never in a million years. I was completely shocked when I heard that I had been nominated."

Mrs De Bono, originally from Malta, moved to Hampshire in 1963 when her husband Paul joined the UK army.

After several postings around the world, the couple settled in Aldershot in 1976 and set up a taxi business.

Mrs De Bono became involved in the Friends of North Town and carried on its management when the previous leader left.

"When I took it on, I thought this would last for a couple of years and that was 28 years ago," said Mrs De Bono.

With volunteers and husband Paul, 74, she runs bingo sessions in the sheltered housing accommodation Alma House.

Mrs De Bono also organises free annual dinners and regular trips to locations such as Brighton, Weymouth, Eastbourne and even Malta.

And along with husband Paul, she even collects prescriptions for the senior citizens.

So why does she work so tirelessly?

Mrs De Bono said: "I love to see the smile on their faces when they say 'thank you'.

"When they say 'we have had a fantastic day, thank you Josephine', that for me is the biggest present you will ever get."

For more than 20 years, the couple have also helped the Royal British Legion branch in Aldershot.

Keith Dibble, the Labour councillor for North Town who nominated Mrs De Bono, said: "She has done a fantastic job.

"They [Mr & Mrs De Bono] are genuinely good people, so it is well-deserved.

"These are really outstanding members of the community.  It is great that she has been honoured."

 

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