A COUNCIL officer who was instrumental in helping Sunderland win the race to be first with its election result a record four times has been honoured with an OBE.

Sunderland City Council's elections officer Bill Crawford received his OBE for services to local government from the Queen at Buckingham Palace watched by his wife, Brenda, and his sons, Daniel and Mark.

It was an emotional day for Mr Crawford as his sister Alison had secretly flown from Australia to join the family, along with his father, Bill, and his other sister, Hilary, for the ceremony in London.

Mr Crawford, 53, joined the city council 31 years ago, working in the elections department overseeing numerous council elections, seven general elections, European elections and the regional referendum for a North-East Assembly in 2004.

He has vast experience in his field and the respect he has earned over the years has led to invitations to sit on the Electoral Commission's electoral leadership forum and the Department for Constitutional Affairs local election advisory group.

Mr Crawford said: "It was a marvellous honour to meet the Queen and visit Buckingham Palace.

"My family and I were treated magnificently by everyone who we came into contact with.

"It was a fantastic day."