A dedicated athletics volunteer recognised by the Queen almost missed out on the honour.

It was announced yesterday that Peter Mulholland, pictured below, an integral part of the Hercules Wimbledon Athletics Club, will be a Medallist of the Order of the British Empire.

But he thought the official letter from the Cabinet Office was a tax demand, so did not open the envelope at first.

It was only when the office called him to see whether he had received the honour that he realised what it was.

Wimbledon Guardian:

The 76-year-old has been the cross country secretary of the athletics club based in Wimbledon Park for 50 years and still produces the weekly newsletters and goes to the club twice a week to help out.

He is a lifelong member and was recognised with an award at England Athletics’ 2014 London Region Awards in November last year.

A former marathon runner, Mr Mulholland, of Birchwood Close, Morden, said he was really chuffed when he finally realised he would be honoured.

Friend and colleague Tom Pollak wrote in this newspaper that despite suffering from TB as a youngster, Mr Mulholland took up running, was a member of Hercules Wimbledon's winning Surrey cross-country team in the 1960's and has completed five marathons.

Mr Mulholland, a grandfather of three, said: “I was late applying because I thought the letter was a tax demand so I didn’t open it straight away.

“It was quite a surprise.”

He said he misses running and wished he could still do it. 

"I do a bit of walking," he joked. 

He said his wife was looking forward to the garden party at Buckingham Palace.

Mr Mulholland has been recognised for services to athletics in Wimbledon.