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Catriona Matthew likens MBE to Solheim Cup victory as she collects royal honour

The Independent
The Independent
 2022-01-19

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High-profile names in Scottish sport, business, charity campaigns and military veterans have received honours from the Princess Royal at the Palace of Holyroodhouse

The 115 people honoured were recognised over the last two years but until now they were not able to receive their awards in person because of the pandemic.

Top golfer Catriona Matthew who grew up in North Berwick and who plays mainly on the US-based Ladies Pro Golf Association circuit, was one of the recipients at the ceremony in Edinburgh on Wednesday.

An “absolutely delighted” Matthew said her OBE brought back memories of her win at the Solheim Cup – a biennial golf tournament for professional women – in Gleneagles in 2019.

She told the PA news agency: “There are so many other people getting other awards for all different fields, so for golf to be in there and recognised among that felt very special.”

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Rose Reilly, a former professional footballer from East Ayrshire who played for Scotland and Italy, was made an MBE for her services to the women’s game.

She said following the ceremony: “It’s so emotional. I am so proud of myself, women’s football and I am proud for my wee village of Stewarton.”

The 67-year-old attracted the interest of scouts at Celtic when she started playing as a child, and was allowed to take part provided she cut her hair short and called herself Ross.

She then went on to play for Reims as a teenager, and later joined ACF Milan, and was a member of the victorious Italian national side which won the Mundialito, the precursor to the women’s World Cup, in 1984.

“This recognition is good for the future players, the wee girls, that they can see that they can achieve something as a woman footballer in Scotland,” she added.

“I can sit back on my laurels now.”

When asked about how her conversation with Princess Anne went, she replied: “I said ‘Your Royal Highness, it’s a pleasure to get my MBE off a fellow sportswoman’.

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“She said, ‘I was interested, Rose, how come you played for Italy?’ And I said because I was banned from playing for Scotland, Scotland didn’t want me, but the Italians did, and she said ‘how amazing’.”

Elsewhere, Brigadier Clare Phillips, colonel of career management operations at the Army’s Personnel Centre and co-chairwoman of the Army LGBT+ Network, was made a CBE.

When asked about meeting Princess Anne, the former Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) Corps colonel said she felt “incredibly honoured”.

She added: “I’ve been practising my curtsy, which is not something that I have regularly had to do in the past.

“The Princess Royal was incredibly kind and she remembered that I am part of the REME, and that we recently rehomed the Corps to what was RAF Lyneham and which is now MoD Lyneham.

“I was able to remind her that her father, his Royal Highness Prince Philip opened the barracks just about five years ago, and it’s a superb new home for us, which was part of the reason that I’m privileged to have been given this award.”

Brig Phillips, who joined the Army in 1995, a time when she could have been discharged for being gay, was accompanied by her wife Nicky, who has served in the police for 28 years.

“Had I been able to bring more guests I would have brought my sister who’s currently loitering outside the gates of the palace,” Brig Phillips said.

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“But also my mum and dad.

“I am absolutely certain that I could not have done any of the things that I have done without Nicky’s support and the support of my family.”

Olivia Strong, founder of Run For Heroes, a campaign which raised millions for the NHS during lockdown, said collecting her MBE “didn’t feel real”.

She told PA: “It’s lovely to be recognised for the fundraising done during Covid.

“I got an email through and I genuinely thought it was my friends winding me up, and then I realised it was real.”

Ms Strong came up with the idea of encouraging people to run 5k and donate £5 to the NHS during lockdown while out running at Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh.

The campaign took off and raised about £10 million for NHS Charities Together.

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Ms Strong said “the MBE is for everyone” who helped with and took part in the campaign.

Craig Thomson, who was a referee for 30 years in Europe and domestically, was made an MBE for services to football and charity in Scotland.

He said: “Surprised, was my first reaction, then I was delighted for recognition for the hard work.”

Mr Thomson said he would not have received the award without his family “making sacrifices”.

He added: “A day like today to come to a palace like this and get an award, it’s recognition both for myself but also for the hard work my family has put in behind the scenes.”

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