A NOT-so-secret Santa who has brought joy to tens of thousands of people has been officially honoured with royal recognition.

Courtney Hughes from Didcot has been bestowed with a British Empire Medal (BEM), for her work collecting and giving out Christmas presents across the county to those in need.

The 21-year-old nursing assistant collected her medal at a ceremony on Thursday night, and mum Claire Hughes said it was 'such a proud' moment.

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Double celebrations are in order for the family, as Ms Hughes's younger sister Megan has been recognised for her lead role in the BBC children's television show The Worst Witch.

Her mum said the show is headlining the Children's Baftas this year, and has been shortlisted for four awards.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony in December.

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Her older sister has already launched this year's Secret Santa 365 campaign, and is hard at work collecting gifts with her team of helpers.

She was recognised in this year's Queen's birthday honours along with 16 other Oxfordshire residents, who were announced in June.

A British Empire Medal is awarded by Her Majesty ‘for meritorious civil or military service worthy of recognition by the Crown’.

Ms Hughes has been awarded the honour for services to older and vulnerable people in Oxfordshire.

Also among those who were awarded a medal were Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service watch manager David Arlott, from Faringdon, for services to fire and rescue in Oxfordshire, and Oxford University Hospitals trust lead cancer nurse Karen Mitchell, from Kidlington, for services to cancer patients and to nursing.

Choral and musical director John Gibbons, of Great Haseley, gained a medal for services to music, as did Thames Valley Police volunteer Anne Cunningham, from Faringdon, for services to policing and the community, and Susan James, for services to Save the Children.