SUE Lister, awarded an MBE for her services to equality, diversity and the arts in Yorkshire in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours, has handed over the York 50+ Festival after 12 years to a team of seven volunteers.

"But I'm still keeping my oar in," says the festival founder. "As coordinator of Ageing Without Children York (AWOC York), I organised a lively display as part of the York 50+ Information Fair at St Sampson’s Centre last Tuesday, when AWOC members Wendy, Vicky and Ann chatted to a wide variety of older people who were on their own, without children through choice, circumstance, infertility, bereavement, estrangement or distance."

Sue will be facilitating an Ageing Without Children panel discussion on October 6 from 3pm to 5pm at the Novotel, Fishergate. "The Lord Mayor of York, Councillor Barbara Boyce, York Central MP Rachael Maskell and Councillor Stephen Fenton are all concerned about the issue and will be on the panel," she says. "Kirsty Woodard, the founder of AWOC, will be coming up from Somerset and Robin Hadley, who has done research on AWOC men, will be coming over from Manchester. This is a chance to explore 'Who will speak up for me and lend a hand when I can no longer cope on my own?'."

AWOC York meets every second Wednesday at the Cross Keys, on Goodramgate, and has speakers who discuss the services they can offer to people living without the support of nearby children or family. "This is a very important issue that needs to be put on the local and national agenda," says Sue. "It’s a piece of the jigsaw when trying to deal with loneliness and isolation."

Sue also is concerned about food and how what we eat affects our health. Her company Real People Theatre is to present More Food For Thought on October 7 from 2.30pm to 4.30 pm at the Priory Street Centre. "This will be a chance to discuss how we feel about factory farming, plastic oceans, soil erosion, organic produce and how much we can trust farmers and supermarket chains to provide us with healthy food," she says.

Look out too for the York 50+ Festival show, backstage tour and cream tea at York Theatre Royal on October 11 from 4pm to 7 pm. "The theme is Goddesses and the Vikings and the show will be hosted by Adrian Spendlow, the well-known York storyteller," says Sue.

"I urge everyone to have a look at the huge diversity of over 140 events in this year’s York 50+ Festival programme at Copies are also in libraries, community centres and city centre outlets; Crombie Wilkinson, one of the major sponsors, has boxfuls opposite the York Dungeon. Enjoy!"

Amid her festival fervour, Sue is thrilled by her new honour. "By the way, I’m the only York person to be awarded an MBE in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours and I’m looking forward to going down to Buckingham Palace on November 10 to attend the awards ceremony," she says.