FORMER Prime Minister Tony Blair's constituency agent John Burton has spoken of his delight at receiving an MBE in the New Year honours list.
Mr Burton, 72, said he was particularly pleased the award recognised his work in the community as well as his services to politics.
Although “retired from official work” Mr Burton, from Trimdon, continues to serve on a number of community organisations.
“I am still on the parish council and chairman of the governors at the infant school in Trimdon. “I am also chairman of the community college, fighting to breathe life into that – and a church warden for the parish.”
He found out he had been nominated for the award about a fortnight ago, keeping it a secret from his son Jonathan and daughter Caroline.
“When I rang them, they were thrilled to bits,” he said.
Sadly he is not able to share the award with Lily, his wife of 48 years, who died in November 2011.
“I was helped all the time by Lily, she was with me all the time and I wish she had been here,” said Mr Burton.
Mr Burton was the constituency agent for Mr Blair, who represented Sedgefield from 1983 until he stood down as Prime Minister in 2007.
Current Sedgefield MP Phil Wilson said: “Congratulations to the one and only John Burton on receiving a well deserved MBE.”
No message yet from the former PM, who keeps in regular touch, but Mr Burton said: “No doubt I will get one.”