Thousands of “small acts of goodness” can make a difference, even though the world’s problems often seem too big to change, the Queen has said.

In her annual Christmas Day address she said she drew strength from “ordinary people doing extraordinary things”.

After paying tribute to the UK’s Olympians and Paralympians, she spoke of her admiration for “unsung heroes”.

She spoke about being inspired by the dedication of volunteers, carers, community workers and good neighbours.

In her 10-minute Christmas message, filmed in Buckingham Palace’s regency room, the Queen spoke about the theme of inspiration, talking about the achievements of Olympians and Paralympians at Rio 2016

“Having discovered abilities they scarcely knew they had, these athletes are now inspiring others,” she said.

Her Majesty said she had been inspired by the “dedication” of doctors, paramedics and crew at the East Anglian Air Ambulance, where the Duke of Cambridge works as a helicopter pilot.

The Queen opened the service’s new base in July.

However, she said inspirational people “don’t have to save lives or win medals”.

“I often draw strength from meeting ordinary people doing extraordinary things: volunteers, carers, community organisers and good neighbours; unsung heroes whose quiet dedication makes them special,” she said.

The Queen said problems around the world – including wars and injustice – often seem too big to change.

“When people face a challenge they sometimes talk about taking a deep breath to find courage or strength. In fact, the word ‘inspire’ literally means ‘to breathe in’, she said.

“But even with the inspiration of others, it’s understandable that we sometimes think the world’s problems are so big that we can do little to help.

“On our own, we cannot end wars or wipe out injustice, but the cumulative impact of thousands of small acts of goodness can be bigger than we imagine.”

Her Majesty’s Christmas Message 2016 from the BBC

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