Queen’s honour for former town resident now living in New Zealand

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A PORTADOWN woman living in New Zealand has received the country’s Royal Victorian Medal - an award similar to the UK New Year’s Honour and which is granted bestowed personally by the Queen.

And the Queen knows only too well the excellent work that Mrs Marion Wortly carries out in her role as senior attendant in the NZ Government House in Wellington when the world’s VIPs come to stay.

She acts as host when world figures like the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are on official visits to the Antipodean country, ensuring all the arrangements are in order, like the serving of meals, her comforts and serving her breakfast in the mornings.

She has met virtually every head of state from Europe and especially welcomed famous people like Nelson Mandela and former Irish President Mary Robinson. And she recalled with pride that she met former Portadown College teacher Daphne Gilmour - who had sadly since passed away - during a visit to Presbyterian representatives to the far east and New Zealand some years ago.

Said her sister Dorothy Hobson, who still lives in the original family home at Seagoe Park, “Marion heard a County Armagh accent among the visitors and was delighted to meet Daphne. They had a great chat about Portadown.”

She has also met Princes Charles and Andrew, as well as Camilla. The Charles-Camilla meeting was during their visit to represent the Queen on her Diamond Jubilee - the same tour where they went to Fiji and were greeted by topless dancers.

Mrs Wortly emigrated to New Zealand 38 years ago with Scots-born husband Kenneth and both their daughters - Alison and Zara - were born there. She was a Civil Servant in the NI Department of the Health and Social Services in the 1974 power-sharing Executive when Paddy Devlin was Minister.

Her position in Wellington is so important that she lived in a ‘grace and favour’ home in the grounds of NZ House for a number of years, but after Kenneth retired from his paint and decorating business, they moved out to their own home.

Said Dorothy, “Marion gets on especially well with the Duke of Edinburgh - she loves his sense of humour - and she is very fond of Camilla whom she finds very kind and thoughtful.”

Marion is the daughter of the late Joe and Myrtle Hobson, has another sister Audrey living in Coleraine, and her only brother Clifford died some years ago.