Cookstown community worker Carol Doey said she still has no idea who nominated her for the British Empire Medal she was awarded at Hillsborough.
Joined on the big day by husband Tony, daughter Patsi and Hub volunteer and friend Grainne MacMahon, Carol told the Mail she “didn’t know what to expect” on Thursday.
But when her name - first in the list of Tyrone recipients - was called, she said she felt “very patriotic” towards her county, if not a little out of her comfort zone because of the formality of it all.
“We are hard core community workers and to sit there in a hat and a stiff dress - we were all out of sorts,” she said.
Asked how she got on, Carol told the Mail: “It was very demure, very hushed and very regimented.
“There was no talking and you had to walk forward to a wee x and you had to turn to face the Lord Lieutenant of Tyrone, Robert Scott - a really, really lovely man.
“They left the best county to the last,” Carol added.
“You get very patriotic you know, even though you never think you’re from Tyrone - when they said Tyrone, I said ‘Yes’.”
“I was first for the Tyrone team, and they said ‘the Lord Lieutenant of Tyrone, Robert Scott’, then she called out ‘Carol, Mrs Doey’ and I walked across.
“The whole ceremony lasted two hours and the girl that organised it said the BEM was one of the most valuable medals.
“They were saying ‘you have no idea what you do’.”
When Carol went up to collect her hard-won award, she said she was also surprised by just how much the Lord Lieutenant knew about her work in Cookstown.
“It was very, very nice,” she went on, “he spoke to me and he knew everything about The Hub - I was totally shocked.
“I thought he was going to say to me ‘well done, you do a very good job in your community’, but no, he asked me who owned the building that I worked out of and he said ‘do you still write your plays?’.”
Despite being over the moon with her medal, Carol said the hand written letter Mr Scott sent her was “nearly as nice”.
“The hand written letter from the Lord Lieutenant of Tyrone was beautiful,” she said.
And as for the award, the ever humble Cookstown woman said the medal is not just hers, but for everyone who uses The Hub.
“I wish all of the volunteers were there,” she added.
“I do this because I love it, so really and truly.
“The medal is going to be sitting in the Hub. We are going to get a glass cabinet now and put the Spirit of Northern Ireland Award, and a couple of civic awards from the council, I am going to put it all in there.
“Using our building you are part of me winning that medal,” she added.