Mothers: Voice for children

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Two mothers who founded a charity to support the families of murdered children have been appointed MBEs.

Lyn Costello and Dee Edwards, who set up Mothers Against Murder and Aggression (Mamaa) after the murder of James Bulger in 1993, were honoured for their work offering help to families who have been affected by violence.

They were joined by the child protection campaigner Sara Payne, below. She too was made an MBE after fighting for better safeguards against paedophiles following the murder of her daughter, Sarah, eight years ago.

Mrs Edwards, 50, of Cwm-y-glo, North Wales, said: "We are still trying to take it in. I got the letter in November telling me to keep it confidential, but of course the first thing I did was phone my mum. It's such a huge honour and I'm so glad Sara has been honoured too."

Mrs Costello, 55, of Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, said: "It's really good for the charity to be recognised, but I find it bittersweet because of what we do. We support families whose children have been murdered. If those kids were still here we would not need to be doing what we are doing."

Mamaa has helped more than 600 families. Mrs Edwards said much of their work would not be possible without the help of the police and Home Office. She added: "It's very easy to criticise police officers and the Home Secretary, but they have really started listening to community groups like us. It makes a real difference to the families that both the police and the Home Office are now making information available to them. That didn't used to happen so readily.

"I would also like to dedicate our honours to the families that we have worked with because their strength is unbelievable. I have buried two children of my own. My babies died of natural causes, but I could not bear the thought that someone had taken them and killed them. How these people survive I do not know and I have enormous respect for them."

Mrs Payne was appointed MBE for services to child protection. Her campaign began after her eight-year-old daughter was kidnapped from a field in Sussex by Roy Whiting in July 2000. Whiting was a serial sex offender who had also abducted and sexually assaulted a nine-year-old girl five years earlier. After he was sentenced Mrs Payne called on the Government to change the law on information about paedophiles.