DUDLEY dramatherapist Christian Dixon has told of his shock and delight at being recognised in the King’s Birthday Honours list.

The 57-year-old chief executive of The Arts of Change was awarded a BEM (making him a Medallist of the Order of the British Empire) for services to mental health in Dudley and the Black Country.

Christian combined his love of working as a professional actor and passion for helping others to become a dramatherapist and he has since worked with mental health charity MIND and the National Probation Service and his charity the Arts of Change Trust has provided more than one million therapeutic sessions to disadvantaged people experiencing mental health issues.

He has also managed ‘The Dementia Poetry programme’ supporting dementia gateways across the Black Country and helping sufferers to express themselves through the creation of poetry.

Christian, who grew up in the Coseley area of Dudley, was also made a fellow of The Royal Society of Arts and helped raise thousands of pounds for charities across the Black Country.

During the first wave of Covid-19, he developed a groundbreaking free toolkit to help parents who would usually only see their children at a supervised contact centre to see and communicate with them remotely, while showing parents practical and creative tools to keep youngsters engaged. The initiative proved so successful it was funded by The National Lottery and rolled out nationwide.

Christian and his team were given an innovation award from the National Association for Child Contact Centres, and he recently qualified as a clinical supervisor, meaning he provides ethical guidance and clinical support for other professional therapists and counsellors around the world.

He told the News he was left “bereft of words” when he first heard about the Royal honour for his work.

Sedgley-born Christian, who attended Stourbridge College of Art in his younger days, said once he’d got over the initial shock he was “overjoyed”.

He added: “At the same time I thought of all the people I’ve worked with and felt this medal is not just for me but for them – all the clients and patients I’ve worked with. To have that recognition was amazing.”

He’s now looking forward to receiving his medal and to an invite to His Majesty’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.