A woman from Oundle has been made an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list – one day after receiving a prestigious award from the Prime Minister.
Elaine Nicholson, 54, was made an MBE for her services to education and Asperger’s awareness.
Yesterday, she received a Points of Light award from 10 Downing Street, a daily award which recognises outstanding individual volunteers and people who are making a change in their community.
In 2008 she set up the charity Action for Asperger’s (AFA), which is based in Corby, to provide a unique counselling and emotional support service to help those affected by this condition.
She was already a qualified counsellor which helped her to start providing counselling to people free of charge.
While being a mum and working tirelessly to get AFA up and running, she gained a post-graduate certificate in Asperger’s Syndrome, followed two years later by a Masters degree in Autism.
Speaking of her surprise at the news, the counsellor said: “I am absolutely ecstatic because the work that I do as a counsellor is done in a very low key manner.
“It’s lovely to get some recognition.
“We help more than 1,400 families affected by Asperger’s and autism, and one third of that number are in Northants.
“We continue to grown by about 85 per cent every year.”
In 2012, AFA moved from her home to its first set of offices.
She not only provided a counselling service but also set up a diagnosis service as many adults with Asperger’s are not diagnosed in childhood.
She is always there to provide support with form-filling and gives up her evenings and weekends to set up and run social clubs and events.
Elaine added: “I would like to thank those who deemed this to be a fitting gift.
“I’d particularly like to thank the mum whose son has been a client of mine now for more than four years and whose mum lives more than 50 miles away.”
AFA was the winner of MHPF Mental Health Voluntary Sector Awards 2015 Personalised Support and Care in Mental Health and Best Engagement Project in the Not for Profit Sector.
Asperger’s is a form of autism, which is a lifelong disability that affects how a person makes sense of the world, processes information and relates to other people.