A FORMER English teacher awarded an MBE thought it was a scam when she received the news.

Joyce Ward, from Wantage, is chair of the resident and partnership board at Sovereign Housing Association, and has been awarded the MBE for her services to social housing.

Under her guidance as chair, the board has established resident-led scrutiny panels, held resident conferences and published regular annual updates for Sovereign’s 140,000 residents.

Read also: New sixth form to open in Oxford

On her MBE, she said: “When I first received the letter, I thought it was a scam.

“But once the news had sunk in, I was overjoyed. I’m incredibly proud of the work I’ve carried out at Sovereign over the years, especially my input into the resident conferences.

“It’s my strong belief that all residents can find a part to play and a voice to be heard.”

Ms Ward, who became a Sovereign resident in 2009, added: “I’m a person who likes to keep busy. So when I retired in 2009 after 45 years as an English teacher, I was rather alarmed at the thought of doing nothing with my days.

“After I moved into my new home I thought: this is different. How does this work? How do decisions get made about the place that I am living? Who’s in charge?

“So that’s how I decided to get involved. Sovereign encourages resident involvement in decision making and I have enjoyed offering my views from the get-go.”

Read also: Key moments from Oxfordshire schools in 2021

Mark Washer, chief executive officer at Sovereign, added: “We share the Government’s vision that anyone who lives in social housing should be treated with respect and dignity and we have worked hard to give more prominence to residents’ perspectives in how we deliver our services.

“Joyce has been absolutely instrumental in making this happen.

“At Sovereign, her leadership brought together governance, scrutiny and community action, linking them so that our residents can have their say on the things that matter to their quality of life.”