"IT was a wonderful occasion, something I will never forget" - that was the verdict of former Solihull Council leader Ted Richards when he received an OBE from Her Majesty the Queen last Tuesday.
The 68-year-old councillor for Castle Bromwich, who was accompanied by his wife Janet, stepson David and eldest grand daughter Joanne said the news of the honour had come 'out of the blue'.
"This award is not just for me -it's a honour for the people of Solihull and in particular to my fellow councillors and colleagues on Solihull council," he said.
Coun Richards led the council for eight stormy years.
Against a background in ever increasing budget cuts from central government he successfully over-saw the opening of Touchwood shopping centre, the controversial plans to build the new leisure complex in Tudor Grange Park, the multi-million pound regeneration of north Solihull and the beginning of the New Heart for Shirley scheme.
"I did have to make difficult decisions but that's what a leader has to do," he said.
"Over the years there has been a real transformation, and not just within Solihull itself but in the greater role it is now playing in the West Midlands region."
Now Coun Richards is in charge of the borough's transport portfolio, overseeing the borough's part in the introduction of an integrated transport system across the West Midlands.
"The aim is to improve accessiblity for all and to tackle the problems we all face like congestion," he said.
Coun Richards first joined the council in 1984.
He first met the Queen at the opening of Touchwood and admitted to 'spending out' for a new outfir for his wife for his recent trip to the Palace: "It's was a great honour and I was so glad to have my wife, stepson and eldest grand daughter with me," he said.