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You can imagine what a shock it was to me when I received a letter in May this year from the Prime Minister’s Office asking if I would accept an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to Visually Impaired People.
Of course I said “yes”, firstly as I knew how proud my family would be, and also because I felt great pleasure from the thought that I had been nominated secretly by people who thought I deserved to get an award. I then had to keep the secret from my family and friends for 5 weeks until 15th June when the Queen’s Birthday Honours List was published. This was extremely difficult as I was itching to tell my children and my parents but managed not to spill the beans until the day! Coincidentally The Honours list was published on the same day as the Reader Service AGM and our outgoing Chairperson, Paula Varey, announced my award at the meeting, something I will never forget.
My investiture took place at Buckingham Palace on 6th December. It was a wonderful experience, the Palace was decorated for Christmas and looked beautiful, and all of the staff were welcoming and helpful which made the day feel relaxed. The award was presented by The Prince of Wales who was of course charming. My husband and parents had front row seats in the Ballroom so had a really good view of the proceedings. One of the questions which the Prince asked me was whether I would be continuing with my voluntary work. I replied that yes indeed I would, I am here to stay.
Paula Suchy MBE