THE founder of a successful Yorkshire Dales business was formally made an MBE for services to the community yesterday.

David Morris and his wife, Grizel, launched Swaledale Woollens at Muker, in Swaledale, in 1974.

The company became famous for selling garments hand-knitted by local people from Swaledale and Wensleydale yarn.

Mr Morris is also well-known in the Richmond area as an historian and author.

He is a long-standing member - and former chairman - of the local civic society and serves on the board of trustees at the Georgian Theatre Royal, in Richmond.

The theatre provided the venue for the 88-year-old to receive his MBE from Lord Craythorne, the Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire.

Mr Morris said he felt great pride at receiving the award, announced in the Queen's New Year's Honours List.

"I am exhilarated by the honour and obviously immensely pleased, not only for myself but for my wife and the people up in the dales.

"Swaledale is known for its lead mining, but with the lead mining also came knitting - some of our knitters were direct descendants of these lead miners who had been taught the skill by their mothers," he said.

The company's first big break came when the British Wool Marketing Board ordered 125 pairs of gloves for a major Arctic expedition led by Sir Ranulph Fiennes.

The couple now live in Richmond and, two years ago, sold Swaledale Woollens to Kathleen Hird, who had managed the shop for some years.