A community stalwart from Dorchester has been made an MBE for her services to victims of domestic violence and abuse in Dorset.

Molly Rennie, a Dorchester town councillor, has been named in the 2019 New Year’s Honours List and will be presented with an MBE by the Queen during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

Cllr Rennie, 71, has worked tirelessly in her community for more than 30 years but over the last decade her most influential role has been to raise awareness of domestic abuse.

Her voluntary work with victims of domestic violence includes being the Chairman of Dorchester Women’s Refuge, where she has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Having established and opened the Refuge, she continued her support by regularly visiting, befriending, providing emotional support to staff, continuously fundraising and facilitating practical help from the wider community.

Cllr Rennie said: “I was surprised when I had a letter in November from the Cabinet Office, but I didn’t pay much attention to it at first.

“It’s not about me, it’s about all the people that we have been able to help through the support we give and raising awareness for domestic abuse.

“When I first got involved there was nothing but now there are so many people and places willing to help.

“The whole community wrapped themselves around this service from the beginning, we have got so many people out there wanting to make a difference.

“It’s important to continue this work because even now after all these years there are still people who don’t know that there is help out there for them.”

Cllr Rennie has been a key person in promoting Domestic Abuse Intervention Training (DAIT), co-ordinating and supporting courses and training people to recognise domestic abuse.

She has also carried out many significant roles in her local community of Dorchester as a mayor, town councillor and as a district councillor for West Dorset District Council.

In addition to her domestic violence work, her contribution to the community also extends far beyond this one area, including working with young people and acting as the Chairman of Trustees of the Dorchester Municipal Charities (the Almshouses).

Elsewhere, a woman from Bere Regis has received the British Empire Medal for her community work.

Alison Bennett has been recognised for her community work in the village, where she has raised more than £100,000 in 22 years for various charities.

Mrs Bennett said: “To find out that I was on the New Year Honours list was a massive surprise, and demonstrates that ordinary people trying to make a difference within their own communities can be part of this system.

“I am delighted to have been recognised in this way, but this is about more than just me, it’s about many others who have worked alongside me, and I would like to thank every single person who has supported and helped within the many projects we have worked on."

In 1996 she set up the Pop In Place, a community cafe, when she recognised that loneliness and isolation was having a negative impact on many peoples’ quality of life in her area. In addition to running this cafe, she runs a “Music to Movement” class for older people, a toddler group and a performance group for six to 18-year-olds.

Mrs Bennett said: “We are always looking at new ways to meet the various needs within our community and we are currently working on opening a Community Skills Shed for people to share their skills and socialise on a regular basis and we hope for this to be available to the people of Bere Regis.

“I would also like to pay mention to my husband Paul for sharing my vision to make a difference, because without his love, understanding and support I would have never been able to have realised much of what I have done over the last 40 years.”

Also on the New Years Honours List is 73-year-old Elizabeth Pocock, who will receive a British Empire Medal for services to the community in Motcombe, north Dorset.

In 2005 she started the Motcombe Moviola film project to show monthly films to the village residents to entertain and promote social interaction.

Under her tenure the project has brought nearly 200 film shows for 125,000 people in the community. The project is now a well-established part of Motcombe village life and provides financial help to other organisations needing support.

John Henry James Lewis, OBE, of Shaftesbury receives a knighthood for services to the arts and to philanthropy.

And Andrew Gritt’s services to nursing and mental health while at Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust have been recognised with an MBE.

Meanwhile, Dorset’s top officer James Vaughan also featured in the honours list.

The chief constable was one of 32 police officers and staff to receive the Queen’s Police Medal for distinguished service to the force.