A mother who founded a charity following a family tragedy has formally recieved a British Empire Medal. 

Avril Mills, 55, from Epping, who learned in May that she had been included in the Queen's Birthday Honours List, yesterday recieved the award from the Lord Lieutenant of Essex at a ceremony held within Ingatestone Hall in Essex.

She founded Hainault-based charity The Dream Factory six years ago following the death of her nine-year-old son, Oliver, from Leukaemia in 1999.

Ms Mills, who has been invited to a Buckingham Palace Garden Party next summer as part of her award, was told of her honour on Friday, June 13, on what would have been her son's 24th birthday.

The charity has granted wishes to seriously ill children since 2008.

Ms Mills said: "I was amazed, just totally overwhelmed.

"The honour of receiving such a special award from the Lord Lieutenant of Essex in front of my family is something I will remember for the rest of my life."

“We are going to carry on granting more wishes, we are currently up to 285.”