Broadcaster Eric Robson has dedicated his OBE to Cumbria, saying he is glad to be able to pay back the county which has given him so much.
The former chairman of BBC Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time has lived in the area for much of his life and is honorary president of the Cumbria Tourism organisation.
The 73-year-old has been cited in the New Year Honours list for services to tourism, following a five-decade career as a presenter, documentary-maker and author specialising in the region and its natural beauty.
Robson told the PA news agency that the honour would draw attention to the plight of domestic tourism amid the coronavirus pandemic.
He said: “I am honoured and delighted but this is evidence of how important the tourism and the hospitality sector is to the economy in counties such as Cumbria.
“There is a huge amount of work to be done following the pandemic and I am proud to be part of that effort.
“The tourism in county sectors in places like the Lake District are hugely resilient and they will come back. I am looking forward to being part of that drive.”
He added: “Cumbria has been very good to me. It has given me the opportunity to do a huge number of things and I am glad to be able to pay some of it back.
“I absolutely have no doubt that the natural resilience of the tourism and hospitality economy in places like the Lake District and the whole of Cumbria will see the industry through.
“There is huge talent there and it will prevail.”
In 1994, Robson became the principal chairman of the long-running Gardeners’ Question Time programme, where amateur gardeners put questions to a panel of experts, stepping down in 2019 after nearly three decades.
Robson praised the programme, which first aired in 1947, for its enduring format.
He said: “I have been very fortunate that I have been given the opportunity to do a huge number of things at home and abroad, in terms of current affairs and outside broadcast, commentary.
“And for 30 years I was chairman of Gardeners’ Question Time. Who could ask for any better?
“It was a very simple format and the simplicity of the format saw it through the changing fashions that affected so many programmes.
“I was very, very fortunate to sit in the chairman’s seat for so many decades.”