- in Environment
Baroness Floella Benjamin has spoken of her “overwhelming joy” after collecting her damehood at Buckingham Palace.
The former children’s TV presenter was recognised for her services to charity in the New Year Honours List.
“Today, it’s giving me a wonderful feeling in my heart,” she said.
Baroness Benjamin, 70, was well-known to millions as the host of Play School and Play Away. She has spent more than 40 years campaigning for young people and is a Liberal Democrat life peer.
“You get such a buzz from giving back and making a difference, changing the world, and to get an honour like this after these years it’s like wonderful recognition,” she said.
Charities supported by Baroness Benjamin include Barnardo’s, the Sickle Cell Society and Beating Bowel Cancer.
“I haven’t done charity work for any ulterior motive but only to change people’s lives,” she said. “To get it, it is like wow, how exciting. But I’m still thinking, what more can I do? To me, it doesn’t end here.”
Baroness Benjamin said she was “thrilled” to receive her damehood from Prince Charles on Thursday.
“I adore the Prince of Wales because he is a man of vision and over the years, I’ve always written to him when it comes to the environment,” she said.
“He has had to take a lot of criticism over the years but has been proved right, and all the people that criticised him have come around to his way of thinking.”
Born in Trinidad, Baroness Benjamin has also appeared in stage musicals including Jesus Christ Superstar and Black Mikado.
A 12-year stint on the BBC’s Play School made her one of the most recognisable children’s TV presenters in the country.
In 2010, she was introduced to the House of Lords and given the full title of Baroness Benjamin, of Beckenham in the County of Kent.