A JOURNALIST from Grays will get to meet the Queen in February when he collects his MBE.

Alan Peaford, 60, from Lodge Lane, has been honoured for his work with the Cornelia de Lange Syndrome Foundation, a charity he set up in 1987.

Alan’s daughter Victoria was diagnosed with the extremely rare genetic syndrome, which can cause impaired development, twisted bowels and missing hands and fingers, at the age of 18 months at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

The doctors’ devastating prognosis for Victoria’s life expectancy prompted Alan into action.

The father of three said: “Very little was known about the syndrome at the time and doctors said that Victoria wouldn’t live past the age of ten, they basically told us to take her home and love her while you have her.

“There had only been about half-a-dozen children in the UK diagnosed with the syndrome at that time.

“While my wife Jane took care of the human side of things, my journalistic skills kicked in, I wanted to know more about the syndrome and what could be done.”

Fast forward 25 years, and Victoria is doing well, and the charity has gone from strength to strength, playing an enormous part in raising awareness about Cornelia de Lange Syndrome in the UK, where roughly 600 people have now been diagnosed.

Its also become a real focus for the whole family, with Alan’s son Tom doing a lot of fundraising through marathons, and his daughter Sara also heavily involved through her work as a speech therapist.

Alan, who worked as sub-editor at the Thurrock Gazette in the mid seventies, and now runs his own successful series of aviation magazines, said he was “absolutely thrilled” to learn about his MBE, but said keeping quiet was hard.

He said: “You get the letter about six weeks before it is announced and you aren’t allowed to tell anyone.

“It was really hard because it is so exciting.

“The best thing about this is the attention it has brought the charity.

“The number of people who have heard about the MBE and then actually gone and looked up the charity has been phenomenal.

“This isn’t about me as an individual though, while I’m the figurehead of the charity, there are so many people locally, nationally, and internationally that have helped.”

Alan said he is “terrified” he will trip up when he goes to meet the Queen at Buckingham on February 13, and his taking his wife and daughter along, as well as his “absolutely delighted” mother Iris, who he describes as a staunch royalist.