Solihull College principal Brenda Sheils has received an OBE for dedicating 38 years to further education.
The head, who officially leaves today, was presented with the gong last week at Buckingham Palace after 13 years at the college.
Brenda, aged 60, started out as deputy principal in 2000 and was soon promoted, leading the college for the next 11 years.
“It was an absolute privilege to be awarded the OBE. It was also a very big surprise,” Brenda, from Stratford-upon-Avon, said.
“I was presented with the award by the Prince of Wales, who warmly congratulated me and was particularly interested in the Princes Trust scheme at the college.
“It was a personal honour but it also reflects so well on the hard work and success of the staff and students at the college.
“Although it was not planned this way, going to Buckingham Palace and collecting the OBE has been wonderfully timed with my departure. I am pleased that I am leaving the college in such a great position.
“The college has a very strong reputation.”
Brenda started teaching at a Cambridgeshire comprehensive school in 1975 and since then has worked in schools, community education and colleges in Devon, Cheshire and Gloucestershire.
Some of Brenda’s highlights include overseeing the £60 million expansion of the college, the increase in the number of apprentices taken on and the strong links built with Solihull Council, the NEC, Jaguar Land Rover and a range of smaller businesses.
She added: “I am so very proud of the excellent contribution the college has made over the years to the economic development and social well-being of Solihull.”