Last Friday was a right royal occasion for the McClelland family from Portadown as they kept a special appointment at Buckingham Palace.
Stephen McClelland, accompanied by his wife and three children, was one of more than 80 people from across the United Kingdom receiving awards from His Royal Highness Prince Charles.
The former Tandragee man was awarded an MBE for services to the economic development of Northern Ireland.
Mr McClelland (53), a graduate in electronic and electrical engineering, spent 28 years with design and manufacturing company Schrader Electronics.
The company was started by Portadown man Jim Bloomer and Mr McClelland was its first employee.
When Mr Bloomer left in 1997, Mr McClelland took over the role of managing director, remaining there until December 2015, at which point the company had grown to 1,500 employees.
Mr McClelland, a former pupil of Tandragee JHS and Portadown College, is now a management consultant, working with start-up companies and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
He said, “The MBE was mostly for creating employment - high salaried jobs in research and development and worldclass manufacturing.
“Prince Charles had a good chat with me. He was an absolute gentleman and had time for everyone.
“He asked me what I was doing now and said it was really important to have a good start-up community.”
In his spare time, Mr McClelland enjoys running and cycling - he has run several marathons and is a member of Portadown Cycling Club.
He is also a Manchester United fan and a season ticket holder.
His wife Janice, who worked as a hairdresser in Portadown salon Cut n Dry until recently, said, “It was a fantastic experience. There was an orchestra playing and there was pomp and ceremony but it wasn’t overwhelming.
“We were made to feel very comfortable and very welcome.
“The only person I recognised was Alastair Cook, the England cricket captain.”
The couple’s three children are Tom (26), who studied mechanical engineering at Queen’s; Sophie (23,) working for Morgan Stanley in Glasgow; and Charlotte (19), currently studying for a law degree at University of Law in London.