Tidy honour for Downing St cleaners

Two Downing Street cleaners have been awarded for services to the Prime Minister's Office in the New Year Honours list.

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Two Downing Street cleaners have been awarded received British Empire Medals for services to the Prime Minister's Office

Two Downing Street cleaners have been awarded for services to the Prime Minister's Office in the New Year Honours list.

Madeleine Josephine Hennell and Henrietta Shorter received British Empire Medals (BEMs) for their work cleaning the most famous address in Britain.

Both women have served under five prime ministers going back to Margaret Thatcher.

Ms Hennell, 62, who retired on January 31 after 25 years of service, said she was "over the moon" at being honoured. Ms Hennell, known as "Connie", who was on first-name terms with all the prime ministers she worked for, first heard of her nomination - made at Prime Minister David Cameron's recommendation - by letter in November.

"I ignored the letter at first, thinking it was just something to do with my pension," she said. "I was over the moon when I found out, I couldn't believe it."

The early morning shifts eventually took their toll on Ms Hennell, who said she had to wake up at 3am to get two buses to work ahead of a 5am start, but the south London resident has no regrets.

Reflecting on her 25 years at Downing Street, she said: "I met loads of people and I was just so proud to be working there."

The Camerons threw Ms Hennell a surprise tea party shortly before her departure, inviting all the cleaners upstairs to their Downing Street flat. The pensioner said she burst into tears when she realised what was happening. "I was just so overwhelmed," she said.