They were among the 18 Ulster people whose “dedicated service to the community” was recognised by Her Majesty the Queen in the New Year’s Honours List. In March 1982 they were presented with their insignias and awards by a member of the immediate Royal Family at Hillsborogh Castle.
Mr Douglas Hood, who had helped run the Larne to Islandmagee ferry for 26 years and who was to retire at the end of that month, admitted to being nervous.
He told the News Letter: “I would rather face a force nine gale than go through that again.”
Mr Hood, awarded the British Empire Medal, carried supplies to the lighthouse keepers in the unpredictable North Channel.
“The Princess asked me what I planned to do after I retire and I told her I was going to visit my daughter in Australia for a holiday,” he said. The ferry was to end when Mr Hood retired.
Lisburn telephonist Mrs Mildred Dugan, who had been blind since childhood, said: “I was very nervous on being brought up to meet the Princess but she put me completely at ease and I enjoyed talking to her.
“She said that I must know quite a lot about my job by now. It was tremendous getting the award but…