MBE honour for Colne police officer

Constable Claire Batt and her husband Mitch are pictured outside Buckingham Palace after she was presented with her MBE.
Constable Claire Batt and her husband Mitch are pictured outside Buckingham Palace after she was presented with her MBE.
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A police officer from Colne has spoken of the "truly amazing" experience of being presented with her MBE at Buckingham Palace.

Constable Claire Batt, who is responsible for the welfare of around 2,700 of her colleagues, was named in the New Year's Honours list for her role as a welfare officer for the Ministry of Defence civilian police force.

The honour came out of the blue for Claire (44) who grew up in Skipton Road and was a former pupil of Foulridge Primary and Colne Park high schools.

And she felt overwhelmed with pride at accepting the honour from the Duke of Cambridge who she chatted with at length about the work she does to raise awareness of mental health among serving police officers.

Claire said: "The Duke of Cambridge was very engaging and genuinely interested in the work that I do.

"It is a cause close to his heart and we had a really good chat about the barriers that need to be confronted.

"I almost forgot where I was, we could have chatted all day."

Claire was accompanied to London by her husband Mitchel, her sister and brother-in-law, Lindsey and Nigel Hurlstone, who still live in Colne, and her mother in law Mrs Joan Preston.

Claire added: "My most memorable memory of the day was seeing the look on my family''s face when I entered the ballroom for my award.

"I think it was one of disbelief and pride, and I’m sure there was a tear in my husband's eye.

"To be able to enjoy this immense honour with my family was wonderful."

Claire got the chance to meet other award recipients including former Beatle Ringo Starr who she witnessed practising his kneeling for his knighthood.

Claire said: "When I first got to the top of a very imposing staircase I heard the voice of Thomas the tank engine, which was slightly disconcerting, however on further investigation I realised it was Ringo Starr practising his kneeling for his knighthood."

Claire said she felt "truly humbled" to meet other recipients who were all very deserving of their awards, adding: " I will always have the memory of all us ladies practicing curtseys whilst walking towards the Grand Ballroom.

"It was a truly amazing day, my husband often states I’m a princess and on this particular day I even got a palace to play in."

Claire and her family topped off the day with a champagne tea at Rubens which is close to the Palace.

Claire joined the M of D police force in Scotland at the tender age of 19 after completing her A'levels at Nelson and Colne College.

Seven years later she was transferred to London where she worked as a counter terrorism office on an Area Policing Team.

In 2009, Claire became a financial investigator for the Fraud Squad.

When the police federation, which is equivalent to a union for the police force, requested she take on the role of a welfare officer, Claire was happy to do so but she felt it needed more structure.

Claire was so successful in establishing a network of support and help for officers in both their professional and personal lives, this prompted the Ministry of Defence police force to create a full time role and they asked her to take it on. Although she has never envisaged herself doing this in her career,

Claire took on the role and and made it her own. She said: "People ask what welfare is and it really is about the care and support of officers in their role, including looking at ways they can continue with their career if they become injured or disabled."

Claire also works closely with the Police Firearms Officers Association, a welfare organisation that has many years of experience looking after firearms officers and their families.

Now based in Wethersfield, Essex, Mitch, is the general secretary for the Ministry of Defence police federation,.

Claire's mum, Deirdre Grimshaw still, lives in Colne.

A bittersweet moment for Claire was not being able to share the honour with her late father, Jack Grimshaw, who she knows would have been filled with pride.

Jack was lifelong friends with the grandfather of cycling Olympic gold medallist, Steven Burke, who also hails from Colne and was awarded the MBE in 2013.