A LOCAL hero has been honoured with an MBE for his service to disabled people in the region.
For more than 20 years Ripley man Keith Boot has helped run the Amber Valley Access Group as a volunteer.
The 78-year-old tirelessly worked with Amber Valley’s services to ensure wheelchair users can get around the towns and lead a regular life.
And last Wednesday he was presented with the prestigious gong by the Queen at Buckingham Palace as part of her 2011 Birthday Honours list.
Keith said: “It was an experience, the Queen congratulated me and asked me how long I had been doing it for .
“She was smaller than I thought she would be!”
Former plumber Keith, who has helped make both Ripley and Heanor’s leisure centre’s wheelchair-friendly through his work and still chairs the access group’s monthly meetings, had no idea he had been nominated.
“I didn’t know anything about it until I got some letters sent to me asking me if I would accept it, “ he said.
“I didn’t know what to think , it was the last thing I expected, I just do what I do to try and help people.”
Keith still works with Amber Valley Borough Council as a volunteer, going through planning applications to make sure they are compliant with disabled access laws.
Other projects Keith has worked on include Crich Tramway Village and Ripley Community Hospital.
For 24 years he has been forced to use a wheelchair himself after suffering a spinal injury falling off a work ladder. The following operation to correct the slip discs was botched, leaving Keith regularly suffering from acute pain.
But he said receiving an MBE was ‘very special’. He was first in line to pick up the honour on Wednesday followed by Olympic cyclist Mark Cavendish.