Marlborough special constable Mike Tupman has told of his joy and surprise after being made an MBE in the New Year’s Honours list.

Mr Tupman has served as a special officer with the Wiltshire force since 1985 and, although specials usually retire at 60, he is still going strong at 70.

He said: “The letter came completely out of the blue. “I was absolutely gobsmacked, over the moon, and delighted, all of those things.

“I found out in November and the hardest thing was to keep it a secret because you’re not allowed to tell anyone.

“I told my two daughters at Christmas and they were very proud, as I am of them.

“They keep asking me when we’re going to the palace and I said if my wife was still with us she’d already have been to the shops to choose a hat, and then she’d change her mind at the last minute.

“The only thing that can stop me being a special is my age but as long as I’ve still got my confidence I’ll carry on. Confidence is the most important thing I think and good health.”

Mr Tupman moved to Burbage almost 40 years ago with his wife Marelene, who died three years ago.

He worked for 33 years for Cadbury in Bourneville as a sales executive and moved to Wiltshire after being promoted to divisional manager, Burbage being a central base.

He became a special constable on the recommendation of the local Burbage bobby at the time, John Borland, who Mr Tupman lived across the road from. He said: “Wiltshire is a fantastic place to live and I’ve bought up my family here.

“I know it’s a cliché but it’s a way for me to give back to the community.

“There have been good times and bad times and sad times but I’ve absolutely loved being part of the community as a special.

“I thoroughly recommend for people to volunteer with Wiltshire Police – there’s a great sense of camaraderie.”

Mr Tupman, who has two daughters Carole and Helen and four grandchildren, is a familiar face in Marlborough where he patrols the streets twice a week. On Sunday his friends, family and grateful residents threw a surprise party for him at the Three Horseshoes in Burbage, his local.

He said: “Since I’ve lived in Burbage I’ve gone to my local every Sunday at noon.

“This Sunday I walked in and about 80 people were there waiting for me for a surprise celebratory party.

“My daughters organised it and they had to do it very last minute because, although I told them over Christmas, they couldn’t tell any- one until it was announced on Saturday.

“It would have been put together in 24 hours.”