Railway Children Actress Jenny Agutter, 59, awarded OBE for tireless charity work
19:44 GMT, 19 October 2012
Film star Jenny Agutter was awarded an OBE today for her tireless support for charities and accepted it for all those working for good causes.
The actress has been a regular face on cinema and TV screens for more than 40 years, starring in a string of acclaimed and popular movies and TV programmes.
But today she was honoured for her efforts away from the bright lights, working to raise awareness and funds for charities close to her heart.
Actress Jenny Agutter poses with her OBE which she received from the today at Buckingham Palace
The 59-year-old celebrity has been supporting organisations such as the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and Action For Children for many years and was awarded an OBE by the Queen at a Buckingham Palace investiture ceremony.
Speaking after the presentation, the actress said: 'It's lovely to be recognised for the work I've done. I think the charitable sector has a great many people who work voluntarily and I'm totally inspired by them and feel privileged to, in a way, have this honour on their behalf – there are a lot of people working very, very hard.
'But I'm in a position where, I guess, because of being an actress one's in the front line – that's what one has to use to draw people's attention often to charities.
'I work with a handful who are very, very important to me and the people I work with are extraordinary and really wonderful.'
Agutter is a trustee of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and has experience of the inherited condition, which leaves the lungs vulnerable to serious infections, as her niece Rachel, born to her brother, has the disease.
The actress learnt after being tested that she is a carrier of the disease but her husband John is not, so their son Jonathan did not inherit the condition.
The 59-year-old celebrity has been supporting organisations such as the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and Action For Children for many years
The celebrity spoke with delight about her 32-year-old niece, who marries next weekend, and explained that cystic fibrosis sufferers were living longer.
She said: 'It's extraordinary. A lot has changed in the last 40 years at the Trust. When they started, a child was lucky to reach to be a teenager – today the median survival age is over 40.'
Taunton-born Agutter spent her childhood living in numerous countries, according to her army officer father's deployments.
Returning to the UK, she trained at ballet school and landed a role in Disney's film Ballerina, then at 14 was cast in a BBC serialisation of The Railway Children.
Three years later, she took the role of Roberta again in Lionel Jefferies' heart-warming film version.
The following year saw the release of Nicolas Roeg's Walkabout, including a nude scene – one of many in her films – shot when Agutter was just 16.
She broadened her work to theatre, joining the National Theatre at the age of 21 to appear in Sir Peter Hall's production of The Tempest, alongside Sir John Gielgud.
Agutter continued to have further screen success with sci-fi film Logan's Run, The Eagle Has Landed, Equus and the comedy-horror film An American Werewolf In London.
Further theatre work included a stint with the Royal Shakespeare Company and West End roles in productions such as Breaking The Code.
She returned to The Railway Children 12 years ago for an ITV remake in which she played the children's mother, and revisited another of her earlier works by appearing in the West End production of Equus in 2007.
Agutter is also a supporter of the organisaton Action For Children, which tackles issues such as neglect and provides help to vulnerable young people.
Jenny look delighted as she received her OBE from the Queen during an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace
She holds the post of patron with the ovarian cancer charity Ovacome and has been heavily involved with the organisation, founded in 1996 by Sarah Dickinson, who was diagnosed with the disease and wanted to provide other sufferers with access to reliable information, support and advice.
The actress said information and education about the disease was key: 'It has made a huge change. Women have become more aware of the symptoms and many more women are being diagnosed earlier so that makes the survival rate much higher.'
She took time out from filming in north London for the hit BBC drama series Call The Midwife, also starring Vanessa Redgrave and comic Miranda Hart, to attend the ceremony.
After appearing in hit TV show The Railway Children, Jenny's acting career has gone from strength to strength, she now appears in Call the Midwife
Agutter said the reaction from the public to the series in some ways surpassed her big films: 'It's extraordinary, I've never really had such a response, even with the Railway Children, which people talk about a lot, and American Werewolf, which had its own kind of following.
'But with Call The Midwife I find people are compelled to come and talk about it, they seem deeply affected by it.'
She added: 'I was completely surprised by the enormous success it had because I thought it would hit a particular audience but what I'm surprised by is it's across the board.'