A FORMER Flixton Girls High School student began 2013 with a pleasant surprise — a nomination in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours.

Julia Quilliam, who grew up in Urmston but now lives in Brentford, London, was nominated for a British Empire Medal for her community work, but has no idea who put her name forward to receive the honour.

Julia, who owns an estate agency, said: “It was such a shock to get the letter in the post, but it was a lovely surprise.”

The 53-year-old said one of her first projects in the Brentford community was to arranging the relocation and restoration of a marble war memorial from a disused church.

The scheme was particularly close to Julia’s heart as her brother Gary, who was an RAF sergeant, was killed along with 13 others in a plane crash in Afghanistan six years ago.

The Nimrod aircraft crash was the largest casualty toll from a single incident suffered by the Armed Forces since the Falklands conflict in 1982.

Julia’s other projects include fundraising and organising the purchase of Christmas lights for Brentford, as it had never had any before and more recently trying to establish a market in the area.

“I’m trying to bring a market here to Brentford because the Urmston market used to light up the town,” said Julia.

She added: “I just generally try to put something back and make the most of where I live.”

Her father John Quilliam, said he and his wife Marcelle are over the moon that Julia is to be honoured at Buckingham Palace.

John said: “She does such a lot for the community so we’re very proud of her.”