Northern Ireland man Brian Gault is star of show at honours investiture

A full 18 months after learning he was to receive an MBE, Broughshane man Brian Gault finally picked up his medal ... with his toes.

By Graeme Cousins
Monday, 13th December 2021, 1:55 pm
Updated Monday, 13th December 2021, 3:28 pm
Brian was proud to receive his MBE
Brian was proud to receive his MBE

Brian, who was born with no arms after his mother took two Thalidomide tablets to treat morning sickness, had known about the award since June 2020.

The 60-year-old, whose work with Thalidomide survivors in Brazil and disabled children around the world saw him awarded the MBE, said: “It was supposed to be announced for the Queen’s birthday honours but it was put back because they wanted to give out more honours relating to Covid – doctors, nurses, scientists, and so on. It wasn’t announced until October 2020.”

Then because of Covid travel restrictions Brian and his wife May had to wait until the end of November to go to Windsor Castle to pick up the honour: “There was an option that we could have gone to Hillsborough, but we thought, ‘this is a once in a lifetime thing – we should travel to London’.

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May and Brian Gault at Windsor Castle

The investiture at Windsor Castle was held by The Princess Royal Princess Anne on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen.

Brian said: “We’d been nervous the night before. We had to provide a negative lateral flow test on the morning of the ceremony. What if we’d come all this way and they wouldn’t let us in. It was a real relief to get in.

“It was an amazing experience to be there, and very humbling. Here’s me with no arms amongst a lot of people who would be at the very top of their professions.

“May and I were privileged occasion to be part of it. Although the honour was for myself, my wife May and I – we are a team.”

He added: “When I spoke with Princess Anne she was actually surprised that the drug Thalidomide was actually being used in Brazil to treat leprosy.

“I said to her that that was how I felt back in 1993 when I saw a documentary about it. That’s what touched my heart, that’s why I wrote my life story and started my ministry work, going around speaking all over the world.”

Following the investiture Brian toe-signed a copy of his book ‘Look, No Hands’ for The Queen.

A week later he received a letter from the Queen’s lady in waiting, thanking him for the book and DVDs.

He said: “You often wonder do these things just go into a cupboard and no one sees them. It was very touching. You never know, she’s a very busy lady but she might one day watch my DVDs or read my book.”

Brian shared his story again at the weekend with evangelist Roger Carswell. For those who missed it, it is available to view again at www.reallives.net

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