A VISIT to Buckingham Palace to receive the OBE brought Bideford businessman and councillor Steve Clarke just behind television chat supremo Michael Parkinson in the presentation queue. Mr Clarke was there to to receive his honour for services to maritim

A VISIT to Buckingham Palace to receive the OBE brought Bideford businessman and councillor Steve Clarke just behind television chat supremo Michael Parkinson in the presentation queue.Mr Clarke was there to to receive his honour "for services to maritime history and the community in Bideford.It recognised his work in saving and restoring the three-masted schooner Kathleen and May, which has become a feature on the river in Bideford, and his services as deputy leader of Torridge District Council and a former president of Bideford Chamber of Commerce.The Queen, it seems, knew much about the historic schooner. "She said to me 'you are the gentleman my husband has talked to me about quite a lot,'" said Mr Clarke. The Duke of Edinburgh is familiar with the vessel through his work as president of the National Maritime Trust.Mr Clarke said that restoring the Kathleen and May was probably one of the most challenging things he had ever done and he would never have succeeded without the dedicated support from everyone involved in the project since he first brought her "home" to Bideford in 1998.Next month the vessel would be accepting an invitation to the four-yearly Brest 2008 festival, where she would be among the top dozen sponsored ships among some 2,000 that attend, proudly carrying the name of Bideford with her, he said.The council and chamber work had been equally challenging and again he could not have done it with out the help of all the people around him, he said.