A SUNDERLAND dad has been given the Royal seal of approval for his work with charity.
John Mowbray, 55, from Fulwell, was awarded the OBE by the Princess Royal for his services to the water industry and charity.
Northumbrian Water’s former director of corporate affairs, who retired this year, has worked with many charities for a number of years including WaterAid, the Percy Hedley Foundation and the Foundation of Light.
As chairman of the Northumbria WaterAid committee, he helped to raise more than £5million over the last 15 years saving 350,000 lives.
John and his family – wife Lynn, daughter Laura and son Martin – attended a ceremony at Buckingham Palace after he was named in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Birthday Honours List.
“It was a fabulous day,” he said. “It felt so special to be taken into the heart of the palace.
“There were a lot people getting awards, but the Princess Royal has obviously done her research and chatted to everyone about their work.
“She was very knowledgeable and she spoke to me about some of the things I had done.”
John, who is president of the North East Chamber of Commerce, has been a staunch supporter of WaterAid, which provides clean water, safe sanitation and hygiene education to the world’s poorest people, for 16 years.
He said: “The award is a great way of bringing people’s attention to the work of the charity.
“I went to Malawi six years ago to see how the fund-raising makes a difference.
“It changes lives as it means people don’t have to spend hours collecting water.
“Bringing water to them means they have a chance to go to school and go to work.”
Heidi Mottram, Northumbrian Water chief executive, said: “It would be understandable if people thought that John had water flowing through his veins and his heart instead of blood.
“He is a true and dedicated servant of the water industry both at home, nationally and internationally, and has served the people in his beloved North East and further afield in so many and varied ways over an outstanding career.
“John has led by example and been an inspiration to generations, in particular, to aid hundreds of thousands of people in Africa and Asia where clean water, which John can take for granted at home, is literally a matter of life and death.
“We are proud that all those years of hard work, dedication and commitment have today been recognised at the very highest level.”