10th January 2012 New York, USA

A Royal Honour for Sheila O’Connor

I had the privilege of being posted to the British Consulate-General in New York from 2006 to 2010. My role was Her Majesty’s Consul and Regional Manager for the UK Border Agency. It was a fantastic posting, and this past November, I was absolutely delighted to receive an MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in the 2011 Birthday Honours List. The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by King George V.

Members of the public who are awarded an honour in either the Queen’s Birthday Honours List or the New Year Honours List receive their award at a ceremony known as an investiture. Each year about 2,500 people receive awards personally from The Queen or a member of the Royal Family. About 25 investitures are held each year, the majority taking place in the Ballroom at Buckingham Palace but other ceremonies carried out in Edinburgh, Windsor Castle and Cardiff Castle.

I went to Buckingham Palace on 18 November to collect my honour from His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.  His Royal Highness entered the Ballroom attended by two Ghurkha Orderly Officers – a tradition which was begun in 1878 by Queen Victoria. On the dais were five members of The Queen’s Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard, the oldest military corps in the UK, created in 1485 by King Henry VII. About 100 nominees received awards that day and it was a bit nerve-wracking waiting for my turn. We received a briefing about what we had to do, but we had a long wait and rather too much time to think about it. I am pleased to say that I managed it all, curtseying properly (it doesn’t matter which knee!) and walking backwards after receiving the medal without falling over! His Royal Highness spoke to me about my work in New York with the UK Border Agency and we also spoke about a visit I arranged for him during my posting to Kathmandu, Nepal. The visit to the Palace was amazing and I truly felt ‘honoured’.  The memories of my special day will live with me for a long time.

Sheila O'Connor receives her MBE

Receipt of the honour was a wonderful recognition of my time in New York.  I would not have achieved this success without the help and support of fantastic teams throughout the region; many thanks to them.

1 comment on “A Royal Honour for Sheila O’Connor

  1. Well deserved Sheila and a great idea to share your wonderful experience with others. Your award was not, I am sure, just for the work you did in New York but for all the things that sometimes you thought went unimportant or unnoticed and you did not think were anything special: acts of thoughtfulness, kindness and the humour that you bring with everything.

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About Sheila O'Connor

Sheila O’Connor joined the British Diplomatic Service in 1982. O’Connor has enjoyed a wide variety of postings and jobs overseas: in addition to a posting in New York, her career…

Sheila O’Connor joined the British Diplomatic Service in 1982. O’Connor has enjoyed a wide variety of postings and jobs overseas: in addition to a posting in New York, her career highlights include a posting to Rangoon, Burma at the time of the National League for Democracy election victory in 1990 and secondment to the Department for International Development at the British Embassy in Kathmandu Nepal in the late 1990s. During a posting in London, she served as Desk Officer for East Timor and formed part of the official UK delegation attending the East Timor independence ceremony in May 2002. O’Connor now serves as the Business Change Manager for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s Overseas Passport Project.

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