Birthday Honours 2019: What it's like to be honoured by the Queen at 21

Courtney Hughes/Kate Mary-Rose Grant Image copyright Courtney Hughes/Kate Mary-Rose Grant
Image caption Courtney Hughes and Kate Mary-Rose Grant

"I was really really shocked - and I'm really honoured," says 21-year-old charity founder Courtney Hughes.

She's one of the younger people on the Queen's Birthday Honours list this year, being rewarded "for services to older and vulnerable people".

Meanwhile, 21-year-old model Kate Grant has also been honoured.

Kate, who has Down's syndrome, sees her role as raising "awareness and inclusion for people with special needs and disabled needs."

Both women have been given the British Empire Medal (BEM) - that's the medal just below an MBE.

Courtney has been running her charity Secret Santa since she was 13 years old and her great-grandmother was in hospital over Christmas time.

"Me and my family took Christmas day to the ward, and noticed that a lot of other people were lonely and had no friends and family with them. It was quite upsetting to see.

"My nan passed away in March 2013 and I thought the best way to keep her memory alive is to set up a charity to help people who are alone and struggling at Christmas time."

Since then, Courtney says she's given out "nearly 50,000 wrapped gifts, van loads of presents to the homeless and essential items for them.

"We've fitted out houses for women coming out of domestic violence.

"We've also worked with a children's hospital and an elderly home, doing tea parties."

She adds: "It's getting bigger and bigger every year."

Courtney says she was "really really shocked" and "really honoured" when she heard she was on the Birthday Honours list.

"I wouldn't have been able to do anything without the Secret Santa team and my volunteers and the community."

She's pleased the news if finally out there after having to keep it a secret.

"I haven't been able to tell anybody at all," she says.

"My mum and dad knew, and my boss at work, and that's it. It's been quite difficult to keep it a secret."

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Media captionKate Grant was the first model with Down's syndrome to take part in Belfast Fashion Week.

Meanwhile, Kate Grant was honoured "for services to the community" in Cookstown in Northern Ireland.

"I'm hugely honoured to be on the Queen's birthday list," she tells Newsbeat.

Kate has modelled for the likes of cosmetics brand Benefit, and was the first model with Down's syndrome to take part in Belfast Fashion Week.

"I am a game changer in the modelling world," she says.

"I raise awareness and inclusion for people with special needs and disabled needs. I am a role model for those who are coming behind me."

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