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Leslie Kay, 85, was made a BEM, after more than six decades looking after elderly people in the Jewish community.
Mr Kay, who is honorary secretary of The Fed welfare group in Manchester, helped improve the standard of care at Heathlands’ Care Village — the Jewish community’s largest home for the elderly.
“It was a big surprise when I got the letter informing me, but a very pleasant one,” he said.
“I’ve been with the organisation for 60 years and I see it as a great mitzvah. Aside from my family it is the most important thing in my life.”
The honours committee said Mr Kay was “a stalwart volunteer” who was “not frightened to roll up his sleeves and become involved in establishing the best quality of care”.
Jill Todd, chair of Leo Baeck College and a former chair of West London Synagogue, was also made a BEM but her first thought when she received the letter was, “oh no what have I done?”.
The 71-year-old, who chairs Tower Hamlets Schools Forum, received the award for devoting hours to improving education in the East London borough.
“I sort of knew something was going on because people kept asking me all sorts of detailed questions about when I did this and that,” she said.
Ms Todd runs a communication agency but in her spare time helps schools in the borough with their governance. She also raised funds for the Caldecott Foundation, a charity which gives therapeutic support to some of the most vulnerable children and young people in the UK.
Sandra Matlow, who was made a BEM for services to the community in South Manchester, has worked in a voluntary capacity for more than 50 years.
She recently had open heart surgery. On opening the letter that her daughters brought to her hospital bed, she burst into tears.
When her anxious daughters read the letter from the palace themselves, they too started crying.
Mrs Matlow told the JC she had enjoyed “an incredibly fascinating life” and was “shocked” to receive the honour. As a founder of the Manchester branch of the National Childbirth Trust, Mrs Matlow successfully campaigned for fathers to be present at the births of their children.
She was also instrumental in setting up the first HIV/AIDS clinics in South Manchester. She was a councillor at the Citizens Advice Bureau, a JP, and has volunteered for Wizo since 1989.
Bernice Pearlman, who worked at the Ziff community centre in Leeds for more than a decade, and has held executive positions on the Jewish Rep Council in the city, was made a BEM for her services to the community.
She told the JC her volunteering included ensuring hot meals were provided for elderly members of the community and organising waitressing rotas.
Mrs Pearlman also organised Chanukah parties and events for the wider Jewish community, as well as volunteer for Macmillan Cancer Support.
The honour came as a “complete surprise”, she said.
I sort of knew something was going on’ A Jewish background has been an influence on my work’
REPORTING BY DANIEL SUGARMAN, ROSA DOHERTY AND ELLIE JACOBS