A DYNAMIC charity fundraising former Dudley Mayor and the community stalwart who led Stourbridge in Bloom to win a series of gold gongs are among those awarded Royal recognition in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list.

Labour councillor Steve Waltho, of Kingswinford, who has raised thousands of pounds for all manner of charities through a variety of gruelling physical challenges over the years, has been awarded the MBE for services to local government and the community.

While David Harcourt, president of Stourbridge Chamber of Trade, who has spearheaded the town’s Bloom campaign for more than ten years and organised Stourbridge Carnival and Christmas lights switch-on events in Stourbridge for decades, was recognised with an MBE for services to the community.

Cllr Waltho, aged 62, who represents the St Thomas's ward in Dudley, was stunned to hear he'd been awarded the prestigious accolade and he told the News: "It was a real shock. I’ve spent the last few years, particularly during my Mayoral year, observing other people and brilliant groups around the borough receiving awards. I’ve even written in support of others and I know how difficult the process is. You never really think it will happen to you.”

The gutsy grandfather-of-three, who also served as a councillor for Wordsley for eight years prior to getting elected in St Thomas’s, has raised around £250,000 for a host of charities over the years - a record-breaking £55,000 of which he raked in during his time as Mayor in 2015/16 together with wife Jayne, the who accompanied him as Mayoress, for The Hope Centre in Halesowen, Stourbridge’s What? Centre, More Mascots Please, the Leukaemia Unit Appeal Fund at Russells Hall Hospital and The West Midlands Lupus Group.

To help raise the cash he has taken part in a diverse array of challenging charity events from sponsored walks and bike rides to testing mountain climbs to jumping out of an aeroplane to scaling Africa’s highest peak Kilimanjaro.

He’s also completed 14 marathons, including the London Marathon during his Mayoral year in 2016, and he’s now looking forward to what promises to be a big charity climb of the UK’s highest peak Ben Nevis in Scotland which he’s getting set to undertake in August with an intrepid team from Dudley to mark the 20th anniversary of the death of peace campaigner Bert Bissell and the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI.

The gung-ho adventurer is even considering walking the 500 miles from Dudley to Fort William in Scotland ahead of the mountain climb.

Meanwhile - David Harcourt was "very proud" to hear he had been awarded the same honour - for services to the community.

Mr Harcourt, aged 65, former manager at Waitrose in Stourbridge and current president of Stourbridge Chamber of Trade, has been organising the town's carnival for about 30 years and has been the driving force behind the town's Bloom campaign which has won nine gold awards, two silver gilts and a silver award when it first started out.

He credited a strong team of helpers, who assist with the carnival and Bloom campaign, for their efforts and his wife Sylvie for their unfailing support - and the hard-working grandfather-of-two said he has no plans to step back from his carnival and Christmas lights-switch on duties just yet - although, due to council budget cuts, Stourbridge will not be making a return to the Heart of England in Bloom campaign this year.

Also honoured by the Queen this time round were 96-year-old Derek Elton, who has been awarded an MBE for services to Scouting and the community in Stourbridge; Diane Seeney from Kingswinford who has been bestowed with an MBE for services to the Girls' Brigade and Robert Herman-Smith, a director of Pedmore Sporting Club, who has been awarded an OBE for services to the global aerospace sector.

Councillor Dave Tyler, Mayor of Dudley, said: “I would like to congratulate all of the recipients of the honours awards this year on their achievement.

“The contribution that each person has made to the borough and its communities has clearly been recognised by the people who have nominated them and their honours are well deserved.

“Awards like these always highlight the excellent work that goes on in this borough - much of which goes unrecognised.

“I would urge people to think about who they work with, volunteer with or simply know in their community, who could be put forward to the next round of honours and also the Mayor’s Civic Awards which take place this April.”