An Ottawa woman was honoured by the Queen on Wednesday for her work helping other Canadian war brides and bombed-out Londoners during and after the Second World War.

The ceremony at Buckingham Palace means Jean Spear is now a member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).

Spear, 83, was among those mentioned in the Queen's New Year's honours list this year.

She travelled to Londonwith her husband George and two children to attend the MBE ceremonies, which included a chance to meet one of her wartime heroes, singer Dame Vera Lynn.

First workplace destroyed by bombing raid

During a stroll through the British capital with a CBC News crew, Spear reminisced about the exhilarating but frightening war years.

She was just 17 and enjoying her first job as a secretary at a women's magazine in the Covent Garden districtwhen she arrived at work one morning to a horrifying sight.

"I knew something was terribly, terribly wrong because it was full of dust and smoke and air raid wardens and police and it was all cordoned off.

"And as I got closer, to my horror, I saw it was my whole office building. The whole building had disappeared."

German bombers had made a direct hit on the site.

Fatefuldance with a Canadian in army boots

A few years later, the young woman was at a dance hall with friends when she met the Canadian intelligence officer with whom she would share her life.

"I was there in a red dress, my husband will tell you, and he came over and asked me to dance.

"And he had his army boots on but he could dance. And his rhythm was perfect. So we didn't dance with anyone else the whole evening."

Bride set off for Canada at age 20

She and George Spear married in 1944.

With the war still on, the 20-year-old bride leftfor Canada on a ship filled with other British wives of Canadian soldiers.

In her new home, she soon set to work making life easier for people back home, organizing a drive to send food and care packages to families in London's East End.

She also helped form the ESWIC (England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Canada) club for war brides, and serves as its president to this day.

Nearly 50,000 women came to Canada between 1944 and 1946 because they had married soldiers serving in Europe.

Jean and George Spear will celebrate their 64th wedding anniversary on Aug. 22.