A CUDWORTH headteacher was made a MBE by the Queen this week - and dedicated the award to the community.

Julie Allen, who has transformed Birkwood Primary in her eight-year tenure, went to Buckingham Palace on Tuesday having been named on the Queen’s birthday honours list earlier this year for her contribution to education after she was put forward by her sister, Carol May.

She has guided the Snydale Road school to an outstanding mark from Ofsted during her time in Cudworth - the education watchdog’s highest grade - and was joined by her sister, daughter Elizabeth, son David and husband John for the big day.

“It was an incredible day,” Julie told the Chronicle. “It was so special from start to finish and it was a true honour to be at Buckingham Palace with so many extraordinary people.”

Julie appeared alongside Doreen Kenny, the widow of Bernard Kenny, who was awarded the George Medal for bravery having been stabbed while trying to save the life of murdered MP Jo Cox last year, as well as actress Julie Walters and the last surviving member of the RAF’s Dambuster squadron, 95-year-old George Johnson.

“The diversity of the people there to receive awards stood out - anyone can be nominated no matter what your background is,” Julie said. “It was wonderful to meet so many inspirational people and the Queen, who said she liked my heart-shaped poppy brooch which had been given to me to represent all the children at Birkwood.”

Mrs Allen took up her first teaching post at Horbury St Peter’s School, Wakefield, in 1994 and spent several years at St John the Baptist Primary in Normanton, also Wakefield, before taking over as Birkwood’s head.

In 2013 she was named Headteacher of the Year for the North of England in the UK Teaching Awards, before Birkwood landed its outstanding grade from Ofsted a year later.

“There’s been so many stand-out moments, none of which would have been possible without my family, pupils, parents, colleagues and the community’s support.

“The MBE might be for me but this award is for everyone in the Cudworth community and Barnsley as a whole.”

Cudworth’s Coun Charlie Wraith, who also became MBE for services to the community in 2013, paid tribute to Julie’s work in the village.

“What she’s done for Birkwood is nothing short of remarkable and it’s a school which has gone from strength to strength under Julie’s leadership. She’s a credit to the school and Cudworth and everyone is so proud of her.

“You feel something special as soon as you enter the school - she’s just got a knack of pulling everyone together to head in the same direction. I’m thrilled for her and it’s fully deserved.”

Coun Joe Hayward added: “It couldn’t have happened to a nicer, more hard-working person. She’s had a fantastic effect on Birkwood Primary and is a real hands-on headteacher.

“We’re all so happy for her as she’s become a real figurehead in the village and the MBE is what she deserves.”