A charity champion from Wearside has told of his huge pride at being handed an MBE by Prince Charles.
Author and painter David Hughes, from Houghton, was at Buckingham Palace to receive the honour following decades of tireless fundraising work to help worthy causes.
The 90-year-old widower and great-grandad’s first book was only intended for his family to learn more about his life, telling of the social history of the North East’s co-operative societies.
But it was copied and used by Beamish Museum for its archives.
From there, the former Army sergeant and Co-Op chief executive’s talent as a writer grew and he was invited to write the biography of Alice Sahhir, a Palestinian Christian who had devoted her life to the orphaned children of the Middle East.
Proceeds from its sale helped the Lazarus Home for Girls and the Jeel Al-Amal Boys Home orphanages in Israel.
I was treated like a king from the moment I walked into the palace.David Hughes MBE
Among the other good causes Mr Hughes has supported include Grace House children’s respite centre in Sunderland, writing a book called ‘Special Children’.
His most recent book My Son the Enemy, which was inspired by his National Service in the 1940s, has to date helped raise over £40,000.
Speaking about his trip to meet royalty, Mr Hughes, who previously admitted being told he was going to get the honour was “mind-blowing”, said: “I was treated like a king from the moment I walked into the palace.
“I couldn’t believe it when he asked if I was still writing and painting. He was so unbelievably friendly.
“He then told me that ‘90 is a wonderful age’ to which I replied ‘well, it’s working for Her Majesty isn’t it?’.
“He even said it was an honour to meet me.”
Another bonus for Mr Hughes was being able to celebrate the historic day surrounded by his loved ones.
His daughter Sheila and son David accompanied him to the service but an extra surprise awaited him after.
“A lot of my family are scattered all over the country, but when I came out my four granddaughters and grandson were all there to meet me,” added Mr Hughes, whose wife May died in 1999.
“That was the cherry on top of the cake to be honest.
“It was a great day and one I’ll never forget.”