Alan's brush with royalty

PORTRUSH man Alan Simpson, rubbed shoulders with royalty at Hillsborough Castle last Wednesday.

The Radio Ulster presenter, was a special guest as His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh, met this year's Duke of Edinburgh's Gold Award recipients.

And the 'Hair on the Air' presenter revealed that he even ditched his usual sporty footwear for 'proper shoes' for the big occasion.

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Speaking to the Times on Friday, Alan said he was both "proud and privileged" to be invited to the ceremony.

"This came totally out of the blue.

"I got the call from the Duke of Edinburgh's representative in Northern Ireland asking me to come along.

"On the day I was the Duke's representative, so I met all the award winners before hand, and found out about them, and their achievements. I then had to pass this on to the Duke of Edinburgh, as he presented the awards to the young people."Alan was full of praise for the Duke whom he described "a very intelligent man".

"I walked along beside the Duke of Edinburgh as he chatted to the award winners, he took time and spoke to each of them"

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And Alan got to mention his beloved Coleraine Football Club in conversation with His Royal Highness: "He commented on my tie, and I told him that I nearly wore my Coleraine FC tie," laughed Alan.

"After the Mo Mowlam programme I was intrigued to see what inside the Castle was like, and it was fabulous.

"I actually met the award winners in the Throne Room, before the Duke of Edinburgh arrived, it was something else."

Kate Thompson, Director of Duke of Edinburgh Awards in Northern Ireland was full of praise for Alan and how he had conducted himself at the ceremony.

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She said: "I have worked with Alan before through a PR company, so I knew that he would be brilliant.

"He is a lovely person, who takes time to speak to everyone.

"He has a real affinity with young people, and we were delighted that he was able to come along to the ceremony."