A family in South Tyneside now boasts a hat-trick of OBEs after a barrister was honoured for his work in the world of sport.
Paul Darling joins parents Bill and Ann in being awarded the Officer of the British Empire after he was presented with his award at Buckingham Palace by the Duke of Cambridge.
It is in recognition of the 56 year old’s services to sport safety and horse racing.
It follows his work as chairman of the Football Licensing Authority, which is now known as the Sports Grounds Safety Authority, launched in the wake of the Hillsborough disaster, and of Horserace Betting Levy Board.
The QC is now chairman of the Association of British Bookmakers, with his interest in sports grounds sparked by his involvement in cases including payments to the firms building the Stadium of Light.
He grew up in Cleadon, where his parents still live, and went to Tonstall School in Sunderland before attending Winchester School and then St Edmund Hall College, Oxford.
I had been as a child with my Dad and Mum, so to go in my own right was amazing.Paul Darling QC
Pharmacist Bill, 81, was awarded his OBE and a CBE for services to health, while Ann, 78, was awarded her OBE for services to magistracy after holding the post of head magistrate in Tyne and Wear for 20 years.
The couple, Mr Darling, his wife Camilla, 35, and brother, Judge Ian Darling, 53, attended this week’s ceremony.
Mr Darling said: “I had been as a child with my dad and mum, so to go in my own right was amazing.
“I was nervous. The Duke of Cambridge is extremely charming, he’s interested and very nice.”
He went into law after he was inspired by Peter Taylor, from Newcastle, who became the Lord Chief Justice.
Mr Darling, who specialises in construction engineering and energy work and is head of Keating Chambers in London, added: “In the North East in the 1970s, he was a good role model, because then you either became a lawyer or bought a nightclub.”
On learning of his OBE, announced last June as part of the Birthday Honours, he said: “The Sports Ground Safety Authority ensures that spectators can go to football matches confident that they will return home safe.
“The Horserace Betting Levy Board provides a wise and sound foundation for racing’s finances.
“I regard the honour as one for both the organisations rather than for me personally.”