STEYNING Bookshop owner Sara Bowers has told of her surprise at being awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM).
Sara, 63, has been honoured with the BEM for her dedication and services to the community in Steyning.
“I am very grateful to everyone who voted for me I don’t know who there are but it was very sweet of them.” she said,
“I don’t feel I deserve the medal and was really surprised, to put it mildly, when I was told about it. I can think of dozens of other people in Steyning who would equally or more so deserve an award like this.”
Sara opened the book shop, in Steyning High Street, in 1990, fuelled by her passion for children’s literacy after working as a primary school teacher for many years.
Moving to the area 34 years ago, for her husband’s work, she spotted a ‘crumbly old house on Steyning High Street and felt it was perfect for both a home and a book shop’.
Sara has been involved in countless events and with local groups over the years.
In 1990 she was founder member of Steyning Chamber of Trade and is still an active committee member.
She has been the driving force behind many Steyning community events, including the arts festival, the film society, the farmers’ market and the Steyning Festival, and she is a key figure in the organistion of the Steyning in Bloom flower festival every year. Sara said she became involved in community events because she was living and working in the High Street, and wanted to show people how lovely it is.
“There were not many tourists when I opened, so I got behind anything that encouraged people to visit the lovely town,” she said.
“We all worked hard to help the people in the High Street and Steyning. I started a lot of projects that other people have driven forward, they have worked tremendously hard.
“It has been a fantastic experience living here with so many things to do and the people are a lovely bunch.”
Sara added: “I want to say thank you to all who have helped over the years and we have become great friends.
“I had a heart attack a few years ago and everyone has been so supportive since. I’m sure there are lots of people who might not know who I am and might think that I have not done anything of note for this award.”
In 2002 she was a recipient of the Steyning Millennium Award.