A NORTH-East opera star Sir Thomas Allen has been awarded the Queen’s Medal for Music.

The internationally acclaimed baritone and director, who was born in Seaham and is now chancellor of Durham University, received his award from the Queen at Buckingham Palace today (Wednesday, March 19).

Sir Thomas is said to have been the inspiration for the film character Billy Elliot.

His award, the ninth Queen’s Medal for Music, was first announced in January.

At the time, Sir Thomas said: “I was surprised and thrilled.

“This very special award means so much to me and I’m very proud to have been selected.”