A Wolverhampton woman who has dedicated her life to teaching the city's youngsters to dance and raised thousands of pounds for charity has been honoured with the British Empire Medal.

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Sheila Labhart, aged 83, has run her dance school in the city since she was aged just 15. In addition, she has been raising money for various charities since 1946.

It was announced that Sheila was to receive the British Empire Medal in this year's Queen's Birthday Honours list. The medal is given to people who are dedicated to improving their communities.

She was presented with her medal by the Lord Lieutenant of the West Midlands Paul Sabapathy at a ceremony held in Wolverhampton's Mayoral Suite on Monday.

Mr Sabapathy said: "For nearly 70 years Sheila has devoted herself to the professional education and development of young people and the service of her community.  She was the founder of the Sheila Groom School of Dance in Wolverhampton. 

"Sheila has been raising money for charity since 1946.  Every year she has organised charity theatre shows, demonstrations and other events and has raised thousands of pounds for a wide range of organisations, including Multiple Sclerosis Society, St Anthony's Cheshire Home, the Wolverhampton Mayor's Charities Fund, The Helen Ley Charitable Trust and Cancer Research.

"For many years she has supported Old Ben, which is a charity for retired news vendors."

In 2006 Sheila received a Certificate of Excellence from the Mayor of Wolverhampton in recognition of the outstanding services she has given to the city.  She has also being recognised by the Royal Academy of Dance for her many achievements over the years.

A number of Sheila's dance school pupils have turned professional - becoming choreographers, actors and running their own dance schools around the country.

  • released: Thursday 3 October, 2013