CRICKET’S most famous umpire was bowled over with delight as made a return visit to Buckingham Palace.
Barnsley-born Dickie Bird - who became one of the most respected cricket umpires in the world during his long and distinguished career - travelled to the Palace in London to be officially made an OBE to mark his outstanding sporting career and as reward for his many achievements since his retirement.
Having been made an MBE in 1986, he was reinvested by Prince Charles yesterday after being made an OBE in the New Year’s Honours list as reward for his service to both cricket and for his charity work.
Dickie, who was whisked from his home in Staincross to London in a chauffeur-driven Jaguar, said: “This is a tremendous honour.
“I have been very fortunate to have met with Her Majesty and other members of the Royal Family on several occasions and each time I have done so has been absolutely amazing.
“Each time I have been proud to have been invited to meet them.
“But for me, a normal Barnsley lad, to have been made an OBE is without a doubt the most tremendous achievement of my life.”
The popular Yorkshireman stood in 66 Test matches between 1973 and his retirement as an international umpire 16 years ago.
But there was has been little rest for this much-loved son of South Yorkshire.
After hanging up his white coat and famous flat cap, he went on to set up the Dickie Bird Foundation, which gives grants to under-privileged children.
His contribution has been rewarded with various accolades - and each time the occasion has left him humbled.
He has been a regular visitor to the Palace, attending receptions and garden parties.
He has also received honorary doctorates from Huddersfield, Leeds and Sheffield Hallam Universities.
The 79-year-old, who played first-class cricket for Yorkshire and Leicestershire before becoming an umpire, has a life-sized likeness of himself which is set in bronze.
The statue, by sculptor Graham Ibbeson, was unveiled in next St Mary’s Garden in Barnsley town centre, close to where Dickie lived as a child, in 2009.
Dickie has also been given the Freedom of Barnsley and is a Patron of the Barnsley Multiple Sclerosis Society.
But proud as he is of all his previous honours, nothing compares to his most recent.