Gloria Hunniford has described receiving her OBE from the Queen as a “magical experience”.
The Portadown-born television personality, who established the Caron Keating Foundation in memory of her 41-year-old daughter whose courageous battle with breast cancer came to a tragic end in 2004, looked radiant yesterday as her work was recognised during an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
The glamorous broadcaster, who was accompanied by her sons Michael and Paul, and husband Stephen, was in great spirits as she shared a joke with Her Majesty while accepting the honour for her contributions to cancer charities through breast screening services and cancer support.
Born Mary Winifred Gloria Hunniford, she began working, aged seven, as a singer alongside her father who had a job in advertising.
She began her career as a presenter on Good Evening Ulster before going to London to work on We Love TV and Open House With Gloria Hunniford.
Since then, she has been a continuous presence in living rooms, appearing on popular shows such as Loose Women, This Morning and Rip Off Britain.
As she proudly held up her medal for the cameras, the 77-year-old looked regal in a off-white blouse and a matching skirt with black lace detail along the hem.
After popular Blue Peter presenter Caron’s death, Ms Hunniford and her sons set up the Caron Keating Foundation, which gives grants to a variety of UK cancer charities, financing professional carers, support groups and counselling services.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph last night, Gloria said: “It was the most magical day — one I’ll never forget. I was so thrilled that it was Her Majesty herself, I gather that she doesn’t do that many investitures nowadays, so when we heard it was to be the Queen today, it was lovely.”
Gloria said it was “very humbling and very lovely” that Belfast charity Action Cancer had nominated her for the honour.
There was another familiar face among the honours recipients - Gloria’s former BBC colleague and distinguished broadcaster Sean Rafferty, who was there to receive an MBE for services to broadcasting.
Meanwhile also at the palace yesterday, a retired special forces officer became the first civilian in more than 40 years to be awarded the George Cross.
Major Dominic Troulan was honoured for repeatedly risking his life to save around 200 people during a deadly Kenyan terrorist attack has dedicated his gallantry medal to all victims of such atrocities. Maj Troulan, who served for two decades in the special forces, returned a dozen times to the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi in 2013 to search for survivors and lead them to safety after al-Shabab extremists stormed the centre armed with machine guns and grenades.