THE retiring principal of Foxes Academy, Minehead, has received an MBE in the Queen’s New Years Honours List.
Maureen Tyler-Moore was honoured for her services to special needs education.
She co-founded with Sue Jenkins the training academy for young adults with learning disabilities in 1996 with just three students.
Since then, the hotel and catering industry training establishment has grown to accommodate more than 70 students.
Earlier this year, Maureen announced she was stepping down as principal to be replaced by Vanessa Cleere, who has worked at the academy since 2006.
Maureen and Sue will continue to develop the training centre as directors of the company.
All of the students who attend the academy have conditions which affect their learning, such as cerebral palsy or Down’s syndrome, or may suffer brain damage and/or epilepsy.
They spend up to three years under close supervision in a working hotel environment acquiring skills intended to help them gain employment in the hospitality industry.
Mrs Tyler-Moore said: “The only way you can teach these kids is in a practical way.
“We are proud of what we achieve at Foxes.
“We turn students into people that have the confidence to go out there and get on with their lives.”
Both Maureen and Sue were working in geriatric care and were looking for a new challenge when they had the idea for Foxes Academy.
Maureen said: “We felt strongly that it was not enough just to teach young people with special needs how to cook, make beds and wait at tables.
“Unless they learn how to get up on time in the morning, catch a bus to work, look after their money, and so on, they are never going to find and hold down a job.
“So, you have to teach them independent living skills as well, and you cannot do that in a classroom.”
Other Somerset honours included an MBE for 90-year-old Margaret Way for voluntary service to speech and drama.
Miss Way, who is speech and drama secretary of the Somerset Music and Drama Festival, began teaching in the 1930s.
She served in the Army during and after the Second World War and earlier this year was also presented with a Somerset High Sheriff’s Award and a Mayor’s Civic Award in recognition of her contributions to the community.
An OBE was awarded to Somerset County Council’s cultural services head, Robert Froud, for his services to local government.
Mr Froud was formerly the county librarian and has given more than 30 years’ service.
Brigadier John Hemsley also received an OBE for voluntary service to the St John Ambulance Brigade and to the community in Somerset.
The ex-Somerset Light Infantry officer is chairman of the St John’s Fellowship in the Priory of England and the Islands, an old comrades association which celebrated its 25th anniversary this year.
Somerset County Council’s lieutenancy officer, Diane Stanton, received a Royal Victorian Order.