WEST Lavington based actor George Baker, best known as TV's Inspector Wexford, joined other celebrities at Buckingham Palace last week to receive his MBE from the Queen.

He told the Gazette: "It was an extraordinary occasion. There I was in company with all these knights, dames, CBEs and so forth.

"Peter Sallis was there, getting his OBE for Wallace and Gromit, and Zara Phillips was meeting her Gran.

"The Queen spoke to everyone in turn. She is amazing, and so well briefed. She asked me did I start the youth club and how it was going now. And that was it. Very brief, but very good."

Mr Baker was accompanied by his wife, actress Louie Ramsay, who has recently been ill and is confined to a wheelchair.

Mr Baker said: "Louie had a wonderful seat, right in the front row. We also had with us our treasurer, Lynn Dyson and her husband Chris. I suspect Lynn might have had something to do with my being awarded the MBE."

Mr Baker started up West Lavington Youth Club 15 years ago after seeing youngsters huddled in a bus shelter when the temperature was five degrees below zero.

It spent its earliest days in the skittle alley at the Churchill Arms and then moved to the village hall, where it meets on Monday evenings.

After a huge fundraising effort, the youth club attracted enough money to build themselves a purpose-built home attached to the village hall. Work has now started on it and it is approaching completion.