It was the crowning glory to a wonderful year for Harley’s Cynthia Shaw as she was formally presented with her MBE from King Charles III at an investiture in December.
After being told she had been awarded an MBE for services to the community in Rotherham as part of last year’s New Year’s Honours, 84-year-old Cynthia collected her insignia at Windsor Castle on Tuesday 12th December.
Cynthia was one of around 80 recipients being presented with their medals that day in the Castle’s Grand Reception Room. But she commended King Charles on his ability to make her feel like the only person in the room.
“The ceremony is commonplace to His Majesty, but to those people walking in it’s an honour. I didn’t feel worthy of being there. But I remembered what my dad used to say to me as a girl. ‘Get them shoulders back, tha’s as good as any of them.’
“The King bestowed upon me the confidence not to feel inferior. He was so warm, welcoming, kind and understanding. He listened with intent, was well informed of what I’d done, and reassured me that an old woman like me had earned the right to be there.”
Following a 35-year career with the National Coal Board, Cynthia has dedicated the last three decades to the community in various voluntary roles. She has served as a magistrate, parish councillor, hospital governor, and trustee of Wentworth Charity.
She was also instrumental in raising over £150,000 to save Harley Mission Rooms in her home village, as well as fighting for safety improvements on the A6135 behind her house.
It’s any wonder she found time to squeeze the King in during her busiest month of the year, what with organising a brass band concert, Christmas fair, decorating indoor and outdoor trees, giving talks to groups, and running her famous Christmas raffle from which she raised over £1,000 for the Mission Room.
“I’ve had a lot out of life, I had a good education, and it’s been right for me to put something back in. All I could think was what on earth would my mum and dad have thought about me meeting the King. It was very humbling. Mum had never even been to Sheffield from our home in Hoyland Common!”
While waiting for the Lord in Waiting to call her through, Cynthia was seated next to Line of Duty’s Vicky McClure who was also receiving an MBE that day.
With her son Kelvin away on a world tour to celebrate his retirement, she was joined at the investiture by her two grandsons, Thomas and Samuel. Proud of their grandma, they treated her to a slap-up meal at The Ivy Royal Windsor afterwards.
“My grandsons both said its highly unlikely they’ll ever experience anything like it again in their lifetimes. I defy anyone not to gasp when they walk in; you cannot fail to be impressed by the majesty and spectacle of it all.
“There’s a realisation that you’re part of history and tradition. It was like a military exercise, very organised and the utmost precision without being officious. It made me proud to be British.”
You can read more about Cynthia in this interview with her from summer 2023.