A WOMAN who was diagnosed with a brain tumour almost 18 months ago has been awarded the Order of the British Empire in the Queen’s birthday honours.
Anne Kelaart, of High Street, Nettlebed, was recognised for her service to the rural community in Oxfordshire.
The 69-year-old farmer and landowner said the honour was a “very happy surprise” and was “absolutely unexpected”.
Mrs Kelaart said: “I was told about it about six weeks ago and I didn’t tell anybody.
“I invited my daughters and sons-in-law around for breakfast on Saturday morning, hoping it would be a surprise.”
She had placed a copy of The Times and Daily Telegraph on the kitchen table, hoping her family would notice.
“My youngest daughter kept tidying them away,” she said. “It was all rather exciting and fun.”
Mrs Kelaart, who is a deputy lord lieutenant of Oxfordshire, was diagnosed in January last year and since then has gradually given up her many voluntary roles.
She was president of the Oxfordshire branches of both the Country Landowners Association (now the Country Land and Business Association) and the Campaign to Protect Rural England, a trustee of the Earth Trust and chairman of the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group.
She was also chairwoman of the Friends of Dorchester Abbey for eight years and a trustee of the Society of All Saints Sisters of the Poor.
Mrs Kelaart, who was High Sheriff of Oxfordshire in 2004, said: “I am really not quite sure how I have come to receive this but I have been involved in a lot of rural things around the county, trying to make a difference in agriculture and to spread the message that we are all in it together.”
She has three daughters, Thierry, Hannah and Lucy, and four grandchildren.
Lucy paid tribute to her mother, saying: “She has worked so hard and is a strong and moral character. This is a brilliant, wonderful honour for her.”
The Kelaart family are long-time friends of the Middleton family. The Duchess of Cambridge and her sister Pippa attended the wedding of Thierry and her husband Patrick at St Bartholomew’s Church in Nettlebed in October 2012.