A LIFETIME of charity work and tireless community campaigning has been rewarded with an MBE for Dick Edwards, 72, of Hastings.

Mr Edwards is the man behind the increasingly popular Hastings Storytelling Festival which for the last seven years has brought an extravaganza of spoken word, dance, puppetry and parades to adults and children in the town.

As chairman of the Hastings Old Town Residents Association he has helped improve the town’s public spaces, helping raise over £100,000 for public exercise stations and a multi-purpose play area on the beach.

And as a 20-year trustee of the Fellowship of St Nicholas he has raised thousands to help provide education for disadvantaged young mothers keen to improve their life chances.

He told The Argus he was “ stunned” when he received the letter notifying him of his nomination for the Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

Mr Edwards said: “I’m a guy who comes from a very poor background and I’ve been very lucky all my life and I’ve had wonderful thing to be a part of – and there are many people more deserving than me but I’m very grateful and honoured to have been nominated.”

He thanked Sir Quentin Blake for helping raise the profile of the Storytelling Festival as its patron, saying the illustrator had helped secured the involvement of people who “would not have even taken a phone call from plain Dick Edwards”.

And he sang the praises of his fellow trustees at the Fellowship of St Nicholas. The St Leonards charity is dedicated to serving some of the most deprived members of the community, and helps provide teaching and qualifications for young mothers who may have missed out on their school-age education and want to get into work.