A senior police officer who received an OBE after leading the UK response to the 2015 terrorist attacks in Sousse, Tunisia has described the honour as “absolutely surreal”.
Detective Superintendent Mark Gower received his OBE for services to policing from the Queen at a royal investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace on Thursday.
The honour recognises his work during the Tunisia attacks where 30 British nationals were killed, his efforts leading the response to the 2017 terrorist attack at Finsbury Park and the investigation to find the Parsons Green bomber the same year.
Speaking to the PA news agency after he received his OBE, Mr Gower said the Queen had asked him about counter terrorism and he described their meeting as “above all expectations”.
“It was absolutely surreal,” he said.
“It was completely unexpected and quite humbling.
“I am here because of everybody else.”
Others to receive honours on Thursday included mother and daughter Deborah Lye and Amanda McLoughlin from Surbiton.
Both received an OBE for different reasons with Ms Lye being recognised for her services to community projects and her daughter for her services to humanitarian relief.
“It was just unbelievable,” Ms Lye said.
“It’s just the most incredible coincidence.”
Ms Lye, who is chief executive of the charity Spirit of 2012, said the mother-daughter duo found out about their honours on the same day.
“We were so pleased when we found out it was the Queen,” she said.
“She told us she knew that we were mother and daughter.”
Ms McLoughlin, who spent four years in Lebanon as head of the Department for International Development at the British Embassy, said the Queen was “so lovely”.
“She said I’m so happy to give this to you both,” Ms McLoughlin said.
“She was so lovely.
“It definitely doesn’t happen everyday – for one of us let alone for both.”
Founder of youth charity N-Gage Christie Spurling received an MBE for his services to young people in Manchester.
“It was amazing and a bit of a blur,” he said.
“It makes some of the challenging times more worthwhile.”