Melton and Leicestershire food champion Dr Matthew O’Callaghan has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
Mr O’Callaghan, whose voluntary roles include that of chairman and founder of the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association, Melton Mowbray Food Partnership and East Midlands Food and Drink Festival, has been awarded an OBE for “services to the food industry and small businesses in Leicestershire”.
He said: “I got a letter on April 30 from the Cabinet Office to say my name was being put forward but to keep it confidential. It was a real surprise. I’m delighted that, what for me is a personal passion and something I do on a voluntary basis, has been recognised.
“I also hope it will benefit the Melton area as there are many people involved in promoting food and tourism in Melton who also deserve recognition. We’re part of a bigger team and together we’ve raised the profile of the town and borough in the food world and put Melton on the UK and Europe food map.”
Mr O’Callaghan is also founder/chairman of the world-renowned British Pie Awards, held in Melton for the seventh year this year, and the Artisan Cheese Fair - now the UK’s largest cheese fair event.
In 1999 he established the Melton Farmers’ Market - one of the first in the country. A year later it hosted a visit by Prince Charles and in 2012 reached the finals of the BBC Food and Farming Awards.
As founder/chairman of the Pork Pie Association Mr O’Callaghan led a 10-year campaign to protect the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie under EU law. As chairman/founder of the Food Partnership he has also battled to preserve Stilton Cheese’s protected designation of origin (PDO) status. He also went to Japan in 2007 on a study tour organised by local government on promoting local food.