A WOMAN who visits dangerous prisoners in a high security prison is to receive a British Empire Medal.

Former headteacher Louisa Harbottle, 84, from Blaydon, Gateshead, visits HMP Frankland, near Durham, which houses some of the most notorious killers in the country.

The great grandmother-of-one, who has three children and seven grandchildren, has not disclosed which of the more infamous inmates she has spoken to.

Mrs Harbottle said: “They are all long serving chaps. They are just ordinary people. They could be your neighbour next door. They are just like the people you meet every day. You would not know the difference. They have not got a label on their brows.”

Mrs Harbottle, a member of Chowdene Community Church, has been visiting for 27 years since retiring from teaching.

She added: “You don’t ask any questions. They are very pleasant because they are pleased to have someone to visit them. I have never felt in any danger.”

Mrs Harbottle said she was very proud to have been awarded a medal and is looking forward to attending a garden party next year.

Her citation said: “Her support for prisoners has been faithful and selfless.

“She has the talent of being able to bring the outside world inside, offering an opportunity for a semblance of normality, supporting those whose thoughts easily turn to self-harm or even suicide.

“She is an outstanding role model showing what a really committed volunteer should aim to be and she is very highly regarded by all the prisoners she has visited over the years.”