BEING honoured with the OBE was a "complete surprise" for former Solihull Council leader Ted Richards, who received the award for his services to local government.
The veteran politician was named in the Queen's Birthday Honours.
Coun Richards started out as a parish councillor before becoming a member of the borough council for 24 years, representing Castle Bromwich for the Conservatives.
Speaking after the award, coun Richards said he regarded it as much an honour for Solihull as for him personally.
"I couldn't have done everything without the help and support of fellow members from all parties and the employees and officers of the council," he said.
Councillor Richards, 68, a retired personnel officer, was council leader for eight years. He stood down in 2007 after "very disap
pointing" election results which saw the Tories relinquish overall control of the council by losing two seats to the Liberal Democrats.
"I thought it was time for someone else to have a go," he said. His party regained control of the council in May under the leadership of Councillor Ken Meeson.
Coun Richards paid tribute to his wife Janet, who he described as the "best secretary, unpaid, anyone could have.
"She is something of a 'council widow'. Being a councillor takes up a lot of your time - attending meetings, seeing constituents who need your help and so on - and she doesn't see much of me some weeks. She's had this for the 31 years we've been married.
"Anyway, I'll be buying her a new outfit for the investiture at Buckingham Palace later in the year. I feel immensely proud of receiving the OBE."
It will not be the first time Coun Richards has met the Queen. As council leader he welcomed her to Solihull in 2002 when she officially opened Touchwood shopping centre. ..SUPL: