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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 December, 2003, 06:51 GMT
MBE for Hay's book king
Richard Booth
Richard Booth declared Home Rule for Hay-on-Wye in 1977
The self-proclaimed King of Hay-on-Wye who confers his own titles has himself been recognised in the New Year's Honours.

Richard Booth, who runs Europe's Largest second-hand bookshop in the Powys market town, has been awarded an MBE for his services to tourism.

He is one of four people from mid Wales to receive an MBE - the others coming from Machynlleth, Aberystwyth and Rhayader.

Mr Booth, an Oxford graduate, opened his first bookshop in Hay in 1961 and pursued the idea that a town full of bookshops could be an international attraction.

This is a tremendous honour, especially because I've taken a radical position in the past
Richard Booth, King of Hay-on-Wye

Forty years later that dream has become a reality with Hay-on-Wye boasting a host of bookshops and being the venue of the now internationally recognised literature festival, attracting 500,000 visitors each year.

Former US President Bill Clinton has been among the speakers attracted to the week-long event.

Mr Booth persevered with his ambition of creating a book town, even resorting to such stunts as his 1977 declaration of independence for Hay-on-Wye when Mr Booth proclaimed himself king and his horse was made prime minister.

And in 2000 he held his own investiture of The Hay House of Lords introducing 21 new hereditary peers for The Kingdom of Hay.

"This is a tremendous honour, especially because I've taken a radical position in the past," said Mr Booth of his own MBE.

"Hay being a book-town has an international and attracts people from all around the world to Powys," said Mr Booth.

Museum of Modern Art in Machynlleth
25,000 people a year now visit the MOMA in Machynlleth

Another person who helped revitalise a mid Wales market town is Ruth Lambert, chairman of the Tabernacle Trust in Machynlleth, who has been awarded an MBE for services to culture.

Mrs Lambert has been at the helm of the Museum of Modern Art Wales (MOMAW) since it was converted into an art gallery from a chapel in the mid 1980s.

The MOMAW now has 25,000 visitors a year and houses exhibitions throughout the year, mainly championing contemporary Welsh art.

It also hosts the nationally important Machynlleth Festival every August as well as staging numerous concerts throughout the year.

"I see myself as a figurehead because a lot of people have worked very hard to make the trust work," said Mrs Lambert.

Four people from mid Wales have won MBEs

"This is a great honour and represents the tabernacle's contribution to Welsh culture."

Wyn Griffiths from Cwmdauddwr, near Rhayader has been awarded an MBE after 50 years service to St John Ambulance Brigade in Powys.

Now 76, he joined the brigade as an ambulance member in Rhayader in 1951 and has attended hundreds of events providing first aid coverage and teaching first aid skills.

He also helped to deliver two babies while on duty.

"I remember I had to take the expectant mother from Llandrindod Wells to Hereford for the delivery," said Mr Griffiths.

"But we only got as far as Crossgates when the birth started so we rushed back to the local hospital and I had to keep the engine running to keep the mother warm while she gave birth in the ambulance," he added.

Dr Roger Cook has been awarded an MBE for his services to scientific research within the agricultural research sector.

He is a member of the soil, environmental and ecological sciences department at the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research near Aberystwyth.

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