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Belfast scouting stalwart and Julian Smith receive honours at Buckingham Palace

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Billy Sholdis with his MBE

Billy Sholdis with his MBE

Julian Smith receives his CBE from the Princess Royal

Julian Smith receives his CBE from the Princess Royal

PA

Billy Sholdis with his MBE

Belfast scouting veteran William (Billy) Sholdis had a special date with royalty yesterday when he collected his MBE from the Princess Royal at Buckingham Palace.

At 81 years old, Billy, who is known affectionately as Sholdie, is still leading the Scouts in north and west Belfast, something he has been doing for many decades.

Billy was rewarded for his long years of service to the scouting movement and young people in his local area in the Queen's Birthday Honours list last summer. Billy, who has lived all his life in the Shankill area, joined the Scouts as a Cub when he was just eight, and, in his own words, he "never really left".

Over 70 years later the long-serving and distinguished leader is still helping the organisation on a daily basis.

Every morning he walks the short distance from his home to their hall on Bray Street, off the Woodvale Road, in his role as "unofficial caretaker".

Although short in stature, Billy is fondly regarded for his many years of outstanding service to his beloved 20th Scout Group (Woodvale) and scouting across the North West Belfast District.

Also at the ceremony was Northern Ireland Secretary of State Julian Smith, who picked up his gong after being made a CBE.

Mr Smith, the Conservative MP for Skipton and Ripon and former Government chief whip, received his honour for political and public service after being included in Theresa May's resignation honours list.

Belfast Telegraph