North Devon Hospice volunteer Pauline Wonnacott has received a rare Order of Mercy award for her astonishing voluntary service at the charity’s Holsworthy shop.

Lord Lingfield, president of the League of Mercy presented shop manager Pauline with her medal after 27 years of voluntary work at the charity.

Pauline said that her experience was “very surreal” when she attended a prestigious ceremony at London’s Mansion House.

She said: “I thought maybe it would be a local event in Barnstaple or something.

“Then I got a letter in the post with the royal coat of arms and thought someone must be having me on. Next thing I know I’m in London shaking hands with Lord Lingfield and HRH Princess Katarina of Yugoslavia.”

After receiving an award bestowed on just 27 people this year for voluntary service, she added: “I can’t believe I’ve got an award for doing something I’ve loved for 27 years.”

Sam Husband, director of finance at North Devon Hospice accompanied Pauline to the ceremony at the Lord Mayor of London’s residence.

She said: “Pauline is an absolute legend at North Devon Hospice. Everybody knows how fantastic the Holsworthy shop is and how it runs like clockwork thanks to her tireless efforts.

“In fact it raises around £80,000 each year.”

Sam added: “It was a privilege to put Pauline’s name forward for this award and the thoroughly deserves to be recognised for her years of dedication.

“The hospice simply couldn’t operate without our army of volunteers, so this is nice to see one of our longest serving honoured this way.”

Pauline insists that she has got as much out of volunteering as she has given back.

She said: “It works both ways, because being here has helped me a lot and I’ve made a lot of friends over the years, but I am very proud of the money that we raise through the hospice shop here in Holsworthy, although none of it would be possible without the other volunteers that help run the shop.”

She continued to thank her team, saying “we can only achieve things by working together.”

Find out how you could get involved as a volunteer by visiting www.northdevonhospice.org.uk .