A former Swanwick Hall School pupil thought his MBE nomination was an elaborate hoax until he saw his name in the national newspapers.
Adrian Ruddle, who grew up in Somercotes, but left the village in 1989 to join the army, has been awarded the gong as part of the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list.
The 46-year-old, who lives with his wife and daughter in Teesdale, County Durham,has been awarded the honour for his work with the prison service and young offenders since 1998.
He said: “I got a letter at the end of November telling me I had been nominated.
“I read it 20 times and thought this is the most elaborate spoof anyone has ever pulled on me. It only brought it home when I saw my name listed in the national papers.”
Adrian, who married wife Lisa in 1999 and has a nine-year-old daughter Ellie, served as a tank commander and reconnaissance vehicle commander in Bosnia and Northern Ireland in the army.
In 1998 he left the armed forces and took up a post as prison officer at HMP Durham.
Two years later he transferred to HMYOI Deerbolt where he has worked rehabilitating 18 to 21-year-old offenders many of whom come in as ‘disturbed’ and ‘difficult’ young men, he says.
In September last year Adrian was commended for saving the life of a young man who tried to hang himself in his cell. He has recently been promoted to senior manager of operations at the young offenders’ institute.
He does not know when he will be required to go to Buckingham Palace yet, but is sure it will be a proud day.
He said: “It’s absolutely amazing - I didn’t know anything about it, I didn’t know I was nominated until I received the letter!”
Adrian’s mother Joyce Ruddle, 69, of Peveril Drive, Riddings, was on a cruise around the Mediterranean when she heard her son was to be awarded the MBE last week. She said: “I am very, very, proud.”