Braunton’s river and flood warden Ben Byrom has been awarded a MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for his services tackling flooding in the village.

Following the major flooding of Caen Street in December 2012 that devastated businesses, Mr Byrom became the warden almost by default because he was the one that had access to sandbags and everyone looked to him for direction.

Speaking on receiving an MBE, Mr Byrom said: "I did not expect the award, it was a total surprise for me.

"Interestingly enough, I had been volunteering for the Royal Winter Horse Show. It was ironic really, I had actually been stewarding the Queen's stand and she had been just metres from me and then I get home and I have the letter.

"It is nice to be recognised, but you do not do it for that reason."

Mr Byrom, an avid royalist, hopes to meet the Queen or Prince William when he goes to St James's Palace.

Among his effort in aiding the community, he has organised sandbag training evenings, arranged for name plaques on all the bridges in Braunton to pinpoint problem areas and is beginning talks for 25-year flood plan of how to combat rising sea levels.

The short term goal is to improve the drainage throughout the village and improve the capacity of the River Caen in the long term.

Mr Byrom, married with two grown up children, enjoys doing voluntary stewarding work at festivals in his spare time.

He added: "I would like the award to be for the good of the river, the good of the village.

"I could not have done any river work without my staff at work and family backing me, so a huge thanks to them.

"I would like it to be used to raise awareness for the river and for people to think about: what can we do?"

And he wants to spread the message of being vigilant: "Now is the time of year to start thinking about what resources you have, if you are in a vulnerable place, and for people to think about what they are putting down drains."

In September 2016, a drain blockage caused Caen Street to flood. The blockage was caused by crisp packets.

Another frequent cause for blockages is underwear.

Mr Byrom said: "People go surfing, they put it on the roof of the car or hang it on the end of the roof rack.

"They jump in the car, drive off and it's still there, but then it comes off and that's something silly.

"You get clothing, blocking drains, falling off the top of cars. We get some really funny things in this area."