Romford marathon runner, 82, made an MBE at ‘unforgettable’ Buckingham Palace reception
PUBLISHED: 13:00 18 October 2017
Havering’s very own 82-year-old marathon runner had a Tuesday morning to remember as he was made an MBE at a star-studded royal reception at Buckingham Palace.
Leonard Nye, of Blenheim Close, Romford, has raised around £100,000 for a variety of charities in his 50 years running marathons.
In June, Leonard – known to his friends as John – was informed that his charitable activities had earned him a place in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, and was invested with his Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) award.
“It was an excellent, unbelievable morning, and it was an experience I will never forget,” he told the Recorder.
“The whole thing ran so smoothly, even the police officers who searched our cars as we went in were incredibly polite and nice.”
And Leonard was in illustrious company.
He revealed: “I was getting the award alongside the director of the Olympic swimming programme and David Walliams, and we were presented them by Princess Anne.
“She’d talk to each of us for about four minutes about what we’d done to earn the award.
“She said to me ‘I don’t think I could run a marathon’, and I wanted to reply ‘well I couldn’t ride a horse!’ but I thought it might be a bit rude.”
Leonard started running in the army, where long, endurance runs were part of a gruelling training regime.
Upon leaving the army, he continued to run for a local running club, before realising he could combine his marathons with raising money for charity.
Although he first ran for St Francis Hospice, for the past six years Leonard has supported Little Havens Hospice.
But he never thought his running might land him an MBE.
“Even getting the invitation was a special moment,” he told the Recorder.
“It was this giant envelope, about one foot by 10 inches, with official writing on the front.
“It was never going to get through my letter box, so the postman knocked.
“I said to him, ‘it’s not a parking ticket from the Queen is it?’
“But it was this lovely invitation from Her Majesty and Prince Philip to join them at Buckingham Palace to receive my award.”