MIKE Matthews, managing director of Nifco UK Ltd and European operations officer, who has received an MBE, described as "unbelievable" the fact a boy from a Darlington council estate was going to Buckingham Palace.

He said: “It really is an incredible honour to be recognised in this way.

“It’s unbelievable to think that a boy who grew up on a council estate in Darlington will be going to Buckingham Palace to collect a MBE. I am absolutely thrilled.

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“I’ve always been proud to come from the Tees Valley, and it’s a privilege for me to lead a company that is playing such a key role in the economic development of the area, and one that continues to create local jobs, something I am passionate about.

"I believe that we have the best people in this part of the world, and it’s fantastic to be able to champion all that the North-East has to offer – so this award tops off the hugely rewarding position I am in at Nifco. I am sure the success we have seen as a region is only the start of what’s to come.”