Page last updated at 15:53 GMT, Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Paralympian becomes youngest MBE

Eleanor Simmonds receives her MBE. Video courtesy of British Ceremonial Arts.

Paralympic double gold medallist swimmer Eleanor Simmonds has become the youngest ever MBE.

The 14-year-old, who won the 100m and 400m freestyle races at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, was awarded the honour at Buckingham Palace.

She joined novelist Sir Terry Pratchett in receiving honours from the Queen.

The 60-year-old author, best known for his hugely popular Discworld series of comic fantasy novels, was knighted for services to literature.

Both Sir Terry and Ellie were named in the New Year Honours list.

2012 figurehead

Ellie told the BBC she was worried about the protocol before meeting the Queen, who "was really nice to talk to".

"I was thinking of getting everything right because we all had to say M'am and say Her Majesty and curtsy.

"We had to walk backwards and I was scared in case I tripped over. So, all that was running through my head."

I wasn't expecting this. I was just expecting to sell books
Sir Terry Pratchett

Ellie was joined at Buckingham Palace by coach Billy Pye, who was also appointed an MBE for services to sport, and her parents and grandmother.

In an interview with BBC Radio Wales before the ceremony, the swimmer said she hoped they did not cry when she stepped up to get her medal, because that "would be embarrassing".

Walsall-born Ellie, now living in Swansea, is the youngest person to feature on the New Year or Queen's Birthday honours lists.

She also won the 2008 BBC Young Sports Personality award after her triumphs in the pool at just 13.

Ellie, who was born with achondroplasia, or dwarfism, is expected to be a figurehead of the London 2012 Paralympics, as well as being one of the British team's strongest medal hopes.

Alzheimer's campaigner

After the ceremony Sir Terry said: "I wasn't expecting this. I was just expecting to sell books.

"You don't grow up thinking, 'Oh, I'll probably be a knight one day'. It just doesn't work like that."

Sir Terry has sold more than 55 million books worldwide.

In 2007 he was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease and has since campaigned to raise awareness of the condition.

Sir Terry receives his knighthood. Video courtesy of British Ceremonial Arts.

Born in April 1948 in Beaconsfield, and educated at High Wycombe Technical High School, Sir Terry sold his first story when he was 13 years old and used the money to buy a second-hand typewriter.

His first book The Carpet People was published in 1971.

It detailed the first of Pratchett's alternative universes, but the most successful has been Discworld - with magical characters living on a flat world sitting on the backs of four elephants, who stand on the shell of a giant turtle.

There are 36 books in the Discworld series.

Sir Terry has won numerous literary awards, and was made an OBE for services to literature in 1998.

He has honorary doctorates from the Universities of Warwick, Portsmouth, Bath and Bristol.

Print Sponsor

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2020 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific