A TAI chi teacher is overjoyed after finding out she will be honoured by the Queen.

Sue Sandle, of Tollesbury, discovered she is set to be awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s New Year Honours list.

The 74-year-old ex-principal of Braintree College runs a tai chi qigong class in Tollesbury, with profits going to children in Saint Lucia, in the Caribbean.

She has been volunteering with children on the island for years, and will this year be recognised for her hard work.

Sue said: “I was amazed when I opened the brown envelope that said it was only to be opened by the person it was addressed to.

“I had no idea and it brought tears to my eyes. I never thought that I would receive any award.

“I’ve since found out that it was one particular friend who started the nomination process, but it involved many others.

“My husband is always there to help, so the award is for him and all of the hundreds or even thousands of people who have contributed and supported my work.”

Sue begun her endeavour after retiring in 1992.

She had crewed on a friend’s yacht on the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers, sailing from Gran Canaria to St Lucia.

Starting to feel part of the community, she began getting involved with charity work in 1994.

She now spends four months of the year living on a yacht in a marina in St Lucia.

Among other projects, Sue volunteers for Dunnottar School for children with special needs on the island.

She also got involved in Amy’s Gift to St Lucia, a fund set up in Amy Winehouse’s memory.

The foundation aims to fund projects for disadvantaged children through music and help with drug addiction.

Sue put together an application to fund music therapy for more than 100 special needs children at Dunnottar and a drug awareness programme at the Boys Training Centre.

It was a success and provided the musical instruments needed and paid for a music therapy teacher for one year.

Sue said: “I would recommend to anybody to get involved with charity work.

“Think about what skills you have and do not be afraid to offer to help. It is very rewarding. I am always busy and I like it.

“I am very excited about going to Buckingham Palace – it means a new outfit and a hat!

“Hopefully the invite will include my husband.”

The medal is set to be awarded at a special garden party at Buckingham Palace.