The vice-chair of a Belsize Park-based community group has been celebrated in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

Amalia Rachel Michaels, who helps run the local University of the Third Age (U3A) in the old Hampstead town hall, was given a British Empire Medal for her services to education.

“It was a great surprise and I'm not happy about the ‘deserving’,” Amalia said. “I'm only a privileged part of a talented and delightful team.”

The Fortis Green resident, now in her 80s, previously taught in various London comprehensives and later became head of science at the Jewish Free School in Kenton.

She was renowned in the classroom for her enthusiasm for science, her creativity and “crazy” experiments.

Before her teaching career Amalia read physics at Girton College Cambridge where she was one of only four women in a department of 100 men.

After retiring she joined the U3A in London in 1991, when it was based in Mornington Crescent.

She volunteered, became vice-chair and has since delivered science courses to the group’s elderly members.