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James Nesbitt OBE: It couldn't have happened to a nicer bloke

I was delighted to learn that James Nesbitt was being included in the 2015 New Year Honours with an OBE.

Having met him on Tuesday night for the first time, I can confirm that he is a genuinely nice guy and a credit to our wee country.

You would imagine that someone who is so distinctive and famous as to be a household name would be at least moderately arrogant and full of themselves, wouldn't you? But this is certainly not the case with Mr Nesbitt and this is how I came to find out for myself.

Two weeks ago I was working on the red carpet at the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year Awards in Belfast along with hundreds of other journalists from around the world. As the celebrities walked past us, the ones who had the time and the inclination to talk stopped to chat on the record.

Word had spread along the line that James Nesbitt was going to be one of the guest speakers at the awards and so I was eagerly hoping to have a word with him as he passed on his way in to the reception.

Sports stars and their partners came and went and then I spotted James in an immaculate dark blue suit, looking extremely dapper and handsome.

The cameras flashed all around, journalists shouted out "James! James!" And then the red carpet host, BBC sports presenter Colin Murray, cornered him for a brief on-camera chat.

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By the time that was over he was ushered through very quickly by security and didn't even glance in our direction.

The last I saw of him, he was air-kissing the comedian Eddie Izzard.

I was so disappointed that my heart sank.

Now, it so happens that I am very friendly with James Nesbitt's big sister Margaret, who I coincidentally met through my work with the Welcome Organisation charity.

That night she texted me to see how I had got on at the SPOTY awards and I told her that James had been too busy to talk to the waiting journalists and that I had been really disappointed.

On Tuesday it was Margaret's birthday party and I was invited.

As I arrived through the door, the first person I saw was James Nesbitt. Margaret brought him over to introduce him properly to me and not only was he as lovely and as charming as anyone I had ever met, he was also profusely apologetic about missing me at the awards.

He also promised me an exclusive interview sometime soon as his way of making up for it.

Now I've met a few celebs in my time, but not one was ever as friendly or as grounded as that.

Congratulations on your accolade, James. As far as I'm concerned, it couldn't have happened to a nicer bloke.

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