Banbridge area Councillor Elizabeth Ingram been awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s 2016 New Year’s Honours list.
The occasion, which came as a complete shock to the local politician, was made even more special when her son, together with his wife, made a surprise visit home from the United States for Christmas for the first time since he emigrated.
Mrs Ingram, who lives in Rathfriland, was awarded the British Empire Medal for services to local government and the community.
“I was really, really shocked at first,” she said.
“I got the letter about a month before the New Year and I was so surprised.
“I had never thought along those lines at all.
“I have only been on the council for nine years and usually people serve for a lot longer than that before they get anything like this.”
Mrs Ingram has worked in the heart of the community in Home Care for some 30 years.
She still hasn’t discovered who nominated her for the honour but she said she was determined to find out.
“All you get told is that it is for service to the community,” she said. “ You don’t any details.
“I would love to talk to the person that took the time to fill out the application form and nominate me.
“I assume that part of it must be for my Home Care work and I would love to know.”
Mrs Ingram’s family is also delighted with the recognition and relatives are looking forward to a visit to London in the summer when she will officially receive the honour.
“The family are very excited and very pleased,” she continued.
“It was all the more special because my son and his wife came home on Christmas Eve, which is the first time since he emigrated.
“They didn’t know about the honour until New Year’s Eve because you aren’t supposed to tell anyone until then.
“That really did make it extra special.”
The honour was even more special because Mrs Ingram was the only person in the Banbridge District that received an honour in this year’s list.
“I enjoy meeting people and I enjoy helping people,” she said.
“When you are in the council you want to help everyone and that is how life should be.”