The founder of a Norfolk-based rural mental health charity said she was "thrilled and hugely honoured" to be made an MBE in the New Year Honours list.

Melinda Raker, from Croxton, near Thetford, was instrumental in the creation of YANA (You Are Not Alone), which has become a valuable lifeline for farmers and rural communities, offering confidential support and counselling to people affected by stress and depression.

Since its launch in 2008 with just two counsellors and two GPs providing helpline support, the charity has grown to employ a full-time manager, six staff and 22 counsellors, with 10 people running the helpline.

YANA has also trained 400 mental health first aiders and now works across Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex, led by a team of six trustees.

"I am thrilled and hugely honoured to receive this award, but it is not just for me," said Mrs Raker.

"There have been some very special people behind the scenes running the YANA confidential helpline and supporting me personally since YANA launched in 2008. They know who they are: this is for them as well."

Mrs Raker, 74, also thanked the "wonderful donors, innovative fundraisers, bequests and charitable trusts" which fund the charity.

And she paid tribute to the 2006 trustees of the Clan Trust who, following a tragic death in the farm community, decided to "do something positive about mental health" in an industry with a high risk of depression and suicide.

"For 17 years, the memory of the tragedy that instigated this charity has never left me," she said.

"Thanks to so many people, I believe this legacy has undoubtedly saved lives and improved lives.

"It has been a privilege to be involved, and this accolade is a tribute to everyone who has played a part in the YANA journey."

The YANA helpline can be reached on 0300 323 0400 or via