The former leader of Nottinghamshire County Council has been awarded the MBE in the New Year’s Honours List, in recognition of her 40-year political career.
Coun Kay Cutts told the Dispatch that she was notified of the award in November, but kept it a close secret - not even telling her husband until it was officially announced late last month.
While best known for her cost-cutting leadership of the authority over the past four years, Coun Cutts’ career in public office goes back 41 years to the day in 1972 when she was elected a parish councillor for Normanton-on-the-Wolds, where she has lived since 1963.
She was first elected to the county council in 1989, but her first 20 years were spent in opposition. The Conservatives were finally returned to power in 2009 and her programme of savings pre-dated the austerity programme introduced by the current coalition Government.
Coun Cutts, who is still Conservative group leader said: “I received the letter in November which was marked strictly private and confidential. I didn’t tell anybody - not even my husband.
“I actually couldn’t believe it, I thought it was a tax demand at first. Then I saw it was from the Cabinet Office and thought David Cameron wanted me to do something.
“I read it through the first time, then I put it down, then picked it up and read it again. I was completely speechless and very excited.”
The ceremony will take place at St James’ Palace and Coun Cutts says she plans to take her husband and daughter to the event.
She added: “You don’t get notice of the ceremony until around five weeks before and there is a seven-month window so I can’t go shopping for a new outfit just yet, and you absolutely must have a new outfit.
“I really didn’t know how to tell anybody - I thought about telling people on Christmas Day but I decided that would be a bit boastful. I just feel very, very fortunate.”