Belfast Telegraph

Balding 'hopeless' as she gets OBE

Clare Balding was left by her own admission a gibbering wreck as the Princess Royal presented her with an OBE for a dazzling career in broadcasting.

An attack of nerves saw the normally calm and accomplished TV personality fluff her curtsey to Anne and almost trip up during the investiture ceremony staged at Windsor Castle.

Presenter Clare, 42, who was joined by her partner Alice Arnold at the Queen's Berkshire home, said after the ceremony: "I got terribly nervous about this, I've been pretty busy then suddenly yesterday I thought 'gosh I'd better make sure everything's in order for tomorrow'.

"I'm still a bit shaky now, I talked absolute gibberish, absolute gibberish - I was just hopeless. Mucked my curtsey up, nearly fell over as I turned and walked away, messed up properly, but luckily not too many people had seen that."

The versatile broadcaster, who was an amateur jockey, has presented horse racing on radio and television for more than 18 years, and also hosted Countryfile, Crufts and BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

Clare's first book, My Animals And Other Family, published last year and based on her childhood growing up in an unusual household, won biography of the year at the National Book Awards.

The broadcaster's family have a close association with the monarchy as her grandfather, father and brother Andrew have all trained racehorses for the Queen.

Meeting the princess, someone she knows well, also brought back memories of a horse racing incident in 1989 that featured in Clare's autobiography.

The broadcaster said: "I've known the Princess Royal a long time, we rode against each other as amateur jockeys - we had an incident at Beverley racecourse many years ago so this feels like the story coming full circle in a nice way.

"I bumped her very badly in a race - it was all my fault. I think it's quite a funny incident and I wrote about it in my book."

Clare was recognised for her sterling work outside racing circles last summer, playing a major part in the BBC's coverage of the London Olympics and later the Paralympics on Channel 4. The broadcaster also led Channel 4's coverage of Royal Ascot - a permanent fixture in the Queen's calendar.

Former Dragons' Den star Hilary Devey was made a CBE for a career in business and her charitable work.

The businesswoman founded the multimillion-pound freight distribution business Pall-Ex after selling her home and car in the 1990s to finance the firm.

Her charity work includes her position as vice president of the Carers Trust and she is also patron of the Stroke Association.

Hilary, who appeared at the investiture ceremony in a wheelchair after a recent back operation, said: "It's a great honour to be here and I'm a staunch supporter of the Royal Family."

Speaking about her time on the BBC's Dragons' Den she said: "It's very serious, it's very competitive and it is your money you're putting up so you do need to scrutinise the potential businesses - I miss it."

The entrepreneur has been filming a new series for Channel 4 called The Takeover, in which a team of managers run a company while the owners take a sabbatical, and she mentors the new bosses.

She said: "It was great fun. My first thought was 'What on earth am I doing here?', but I'm not going to tell you any more but I thoroughly thoroughly enjoyed it."

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