A RETIRED caretaker has become one of the first people in the country to receive the re-established British Empire Medal.
Barry Ryan received his BEM from Her Majesty’s county representative, Lord Lieutenant Algernon Herber-Percy, in a ceremony held at the Wynnstay Hotel in Oswestry earlier this month after he was recognised with the honour in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in May for his services to Walford and North Shropshire College where he had worked for over two decades.
But the 68-year-old almost missed out on the award after he threw the initial nomination letter away after he thought it was a joke from his friends.
“It wasn’t until I got a call from a secretary at the Cabinet a few days later who assured me that it wasn’t a wind up and agreed to send the forms again that I realised the letter was genuine,” he said.
“I still can’t believe it. I really loved working at the college, so much so that I never missed a day’s work and now, having recently retired from caretaking, I’ve gone back to work as a driver for them,” he added.
Mr Ryan and his wife, Yolande, will attend a Buckingham Palace Garden Party next year to further celebrate his achievement.
The BEM was reinstated as an honour from the Crown to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee after it was scrapped in 1992 for causing social divisions.
Barry and his wife will be attending a garden party at Buckingham Palace in 2013 to celebrate further his achievement.