A BEWDLEY town councillor and community first responder has received his MBE during a ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

Paul Gittins, 65, of Lyttleton Road, was recognised in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list for services to the community of Bewdley and as a community first responder in Worcestershire. The presentation took place last Thursday, February 28.

The Labour town councillor travelled to London with his wife Carol, his son and granddaughter and said he was “honoured” to meet the Queen.

“When my name was read out I bowed to the Queen and said hello,” he explained. “She asked why I had won the award and if I was busy, I told her I volunteered with the ambulance service and attended incidents in my own car and she shook my hand.

“It was a fantastic experience. I felt very honoured and to actually speak to the Queen and shake her hand and even go into the palace was a real honour, as well as meeting other suchlike people.”

Mr Gittins said another highlight was meeting former Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose wife Cherie was at the ceremony collecting a CBE for services to women’s issues and charity.

British Olympic heroes Jessica Ennis and boxer Nicola Adams were also collecting MBE awards on the day.

“It was a fantastic occasion,” added Mr Gittins. “My family really enjoyed the day – they were over the moon about it.”

Mr Gittins has been Bewdley Mayor twice, from 1999 to 2000 and 2010 to 2011, is chairman of the town’s Royal British Legion and has served as a community first responder – attending incidents before paramedics arrive in an ambulance – since 2005.

He responded to 530 calls during 2012, including 150 between 1am and 6am.

He was born and raised in Bewdley, was a firefighter for 35 years and now works for Age UK Wyre Forest as a supervisor for the service’s gardening team.