AN IRVINE-born diplomat has received his OBE at Buckingham Palace.

Alan Gemmell, who is Director of the British Council in India, has received the prestigious award “for services to cultural relations in the area of Arts and Science.”

Alan, who grew up in Auchenharvie Place in Girdle Toll, travelled to Buckingham Palace with husband Damien Stirk last week to receive the award from HRH Prince Charles and said the experience was nerve-wracking.

He told the Times: “I was a wee bit nervous mainly because I had new shoes and was terrified I would fall into him or slip as I took the backward steps at the end of the conversation.

“Once inside you get separated from your guests and rehearse when to walk towards Prince Charles ‘listen for your surname’ and when and how to bow.

“But Prince Charles was great. He wanted to know where we were now and when we’d go to India.

“We talked about a British Council event I’d held at Dumfries House in Cumnock this year.

“He laughed and said it sounds like the British Council is doing well.”

Whilst mingling with fellow guests Alan managed to find a fellow Scot with a famous connection.

He said: “I found a man in a kilt to talk to and he turned out to run a company that makes all the diesel engines for Tata trucks in India and is the uncle of the actor John Barrowman. He was collecting an MBE.”

Alan also took along his excited mum Lynn Telfer who looked stunning, almost stealing the show as she proudly watch her son receive the honour.

He added: “My mum was very exited as our taxi drove into Buckingham Palace. Even the cab driver couldn’t believe we would be allowed in.”

The award marks what is turning out to be an incredible year for Alan.

After kicking off 2016 with a mention in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list, the former Irvine Royal Academy pupil also made it in to GQ magazine’s 100 Most Connected Men in the World list, alongside Brad Pitt, David Cameron and Andy Murray, thanks to his amazing and tireless work with the British Council.

Former Annick Primary pupil Alan started his career at the Home Office in 2002, where he stayed for four years in various roles including Policy Assistant on youth volunteering, Private Secretary to Permanent Secretary and Assistant Director responsible for economic migration.

He then moved on to the Cabinet Office where he worked as Overseas and Defence Secretariat, before eventually moving to the British Council in 2007 where he took up the role as Head of External Relations.

Since then he has continued to prove his tireless dedication to diplomacy around the world, taking up roles in Sao Paulo, Mexico, Israel and now, India.

Just last month Alan, 38, moved to New Dehli with Damien, 36, where, he has taken up the role of Director.

The job follows a three-and-a-half year stint in the same role in Tel Aviv where he was instrumental in many major diplomatic projects, including raising more than £10million for ground-breaking stem cell research.

Alan has also been pivotal in the creation of fiveFilms4freedom - the world’s first global online LGBT Film Festival, giving everyone, everywhere access to cinema, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Alan says everyone, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation or background should become involved with the British Council around the world.

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