US Air Force base secretary, 81, becomes MBE after 63 years of service

An 81-year-old woman has been made an MBE after working as a secretary at a US Air Force base in England for over 63 years.

Faith Rutterford still works at RAF Mildenhall – a base in Suffolk that supports US military operations.

She started there in April 1959.

Throughout the six decades of her employment, Ms Rutterford has worked as secretary to the commander of the 100th Civil Engineer Squadron.

G7 Summit
US President Joe Biden addressing US military personnel at RAF Mildenhall (Joe Giddens/PA)

She received her honour at Windsor Castle on Tuesday for public service.

She told the PA news agency: “I still put my time in.”

Asked why she continues to work, Ms Rutterford said: “I love it and the people, they have kept me going.”

She told PA that a lot has changed at RAF Mildenhall over the past six decades.

She said staff were informed that the base would be shut down within the last three years but it remains open.

Ms Rutterford, who lives three miles away in Barton Mills, said it would take “a lot of the trade” away from the area if the base was to close, adding that it plays an “important part” in the local community.

Though she said she felt “excited” after receiving the award, the 81-year-old added that she was “humbled” by the honour.

“I don’t deserve anything,” she went on. “I haven’t done anything more than anyone else.”

US President Joe Biden has visited RAF Mildenhall more than once in the last two years, stopping there to refuel his Air Force One jet in March last year and delivering a speech to American service personnel and their families there in June 2021.