wo Northern Ireland recipients of the Queen’s final Birthday Honours have spoken of their pride at being asked to attend the late monarch’s funeral.
Brenda Herron, who has spent more than 40 years as a Girlguiding leader, and senior Orangeman and Presbyterian minister Rev Mervyn Gibson were both made MBEs in June.
They will join dignitaries from around the world inside Westminster Abbey on Monday as they pay respects to the Queen at the state funeral.
Around 200 people from this year’s Birthday Honours list have been invited to attend.
Mrs Herron, from Hillsborough, Co Down, was honoured for her long involvement with the guiding movement, an association that has included a period as chief commissioner for Girlguiding Ulster.
The Queen, a Guide herself as a child, was patron of the organisation from 1953 until her death.
“It’s just a privilege and an absolute honour,” Mrs Herron said of her invite to the funeral.
“I have a huge mix of emotions. I had massive admiration for the Queen.
“She was a Girl Guide herself and she lived her life by her promise to do her best and serve the community and, in her case, it was the nation.
“So as a Girl Guide myself, I just feel that it’s so lovely to be there and to be able to pay my respects and just to be in the Abbey.
“I think it will be a very sombre occasion, but it certainly will not be one that I will ever forget.”
Rev Gibson said he was left in a state of disbelief after receiving a phone call from a Government official informing him of his invite.
The former Royal Ulster Constabulary officer, who left the force to become a minister at Westbourne Presbyterian Community Church in east Belfast, is currently Grand Secretary of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland.
“When I got the news, I was totally shocked and have to say quite emotional,” he said.
“I was just so humbled by the whole thing.
“I still can’t get my head around that I’m actually going to Westminster for the funeral for her Majesty.
“Funerals are the stock-in-trade of what I do in many ways, and I always say it’s a privilege to take a funeral.
“But to attend the funeral for her Majesty it’s just an occasion I think will be so emotional and just overcome with a sense of occasion.
“And having been picked to attend, it is just something I still find hard to believe.”