Blackpool tourism champion Katherine's delight at MBE honour
A proud champion of Blackpool and Lancashire who has spent her entire working life in tourism and regeneration has been awarded the MBE in the Queens Birthday Honours.
Katherine O’Connor was born in Blackpool and still lives in the resort.
A former pupil of Stanley School, Collegiate Grammar School and Blackpool and the Fylde College she started her career with Trusthouse Forte Leisure, which became the First Leisure Corporation, where she worked as executive assistant to the managing director, organising activities including Royal visits by Princess Diana in 1992 and The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh two years later .
Katherine left First Leisure in 1997 to become tourism and advertising manager at Blackpool Council and in 2004 took a regional role at the North West Regional Development Agency.
She was later North West Business Lead for the London 2012 Olympics before becoming senior policy manager for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, working on Liverpool City Region and then as Area Lead for Lancashire She has subsequently gained promotion to a national role.
Katherine has been involved in the voluntary sector all her adult life, with her main achievements connected with Lancashire Constabulary. She joined as a Special Constable in 1980 and achieved rapid promotion to Special Inspector in 1983, receiving an award for outstanding service, working as a community officer and then recruiting new volunteers.
She continued to serve for 25 years and was selected to lead a new unit working on Community Safety, a first for Lancashire, and during this time she and the team she led was highly commended in the The Lord Ferrers Awards, celebrating volunteers in policing.
Katherine resigned from the Specials as Deputy County Commandant due to work commitments in 2005, but has continued to volunteer with Lancashire Police and in September 2020 she celebrated 40 years as a volunteer.
She worked for five years for SSAFA Forces Help Lancashire branch working as media co-ordinator and joined Help for Heroes in their formative early years, as Lancashire County Co-ordinator, a voluntary role she jointly held with her father until their retirement in September 2012.
Katherine was then approached to become secretary for Blackpool District Scouts in 2012 and now hold the role of chairman, as well as being an executive member of West Lancashire Scouts. In addition, she also is a Trustee of the new Blackpool Museum, Showtown.
As well as meeting The Queen on her 1994 visit to Blackpool, Katherine has previously attended Buckingham Palace, when she was introduced the HRH the Duke of Edinburgh on achieving her Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award.
Of her MBE award, she said: “I cannot tell you how thrilled and honoured I am that my colleagues at work nominated me for this honour. My family and friends are absolutely delighted for me and I know my lovely parents would have been extremely proud."
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