A PETERHEAD school teacher says she is both “delighted” and “humbled” to have been made an MBE in the New Year Honours List.
Elaine Stephen (47), who invented the Walkodile device, enabling children to keep safe on the streets, has had a fruitful 2010 having picked up a host of awards for her invention, which has enjoyed global success since its launch four years ago.
The Buchanhaven Primary School teacher who, along with husband John (40), remortgaged their home to fund the production of the safety device, told the Buchanie on Friday that the honour had come as a “bolt from the blue” and had totally shocked her.
“I received the letter around five weeks ago. It was a Saturday morning and I just couldn’t believe it,” said Elaine.
“The letter said that I had to keep the news confidential, which wasn’t really a problem for me as I deal with confidential matters on a day-to-day basis in my job, but on Thursday the journalists found out at noon and they were ringing me by 12.30pm.
“I hadn’t told the children and I just said that it was to do with the Walkodile in Canada and they believed me! They got a shock when they saw my picture in the paper with the story about me getting the MBE,” she said.
Elaine, who has taught at Buchanhaven Primary for the past 11 years, said the fact that the Walkodile has been recognised as doing the job it was meant to do was a great achievement.
“The idea behind the Walkodile was to keep children safe and it’s an honour that it has been recognised,” she said.
“It’s still great for me to see the Walkodile being used on the streets by nursery pupils and school children and this is just the icing on the cake for me in what has been a great year.”
Elaine added: “I never imagined that something like this could happen to someone like me and hopefully it will give inspiration to the children I teach that they too can achieve anything if they put their minds to it and work hard.”
Elaine will now have to wait until she receives a letter from St. James’ Palace to find out when she will head down to pick up her award.