A DEDICATED headteacher of 30 years shook hands with Prince Charles as he received his OBE.

Gary Smith, head at Elmstead Market’s Market Field School, received an OBE for his services to children with special educational needs.

He went to Buckingham Palace with his mum, Margaret, and wife, Sarah, to collect the honour from Prince Charles.

Mr Smith said: “When we walked through the gates we had all the tourists looking at us which was quite funny.

“We were taken into a massive room with amazing paintings hanging everywhere, it was very ornate and overwhelming.

“You suddenly realise you don’t know anyone but you are all there to receive an award.

“I got chatting to three police officers who were getting awards for bravery during the Westminster attacks. It was very inspiring.”

When his name was called, Mr Smith stepped forward and bowed to Prince Charles, who spoke to him about his teaching career.

Gary said: “He said 30 years working in that field was a long time and he asked me if I enjoyed it.

“I said the time had flown by because I enjoy it so much.

“I can’t really remember the rest as it’s all a blur, but I know it felt personal.

“He had a very firm handshake, I’ve never met a future king before.”

The staff and children had adorned the school with balloons and banners and photos of him with Prince Charles.

Mr Smith said: “Each class also presented me with a momento, and I’m going to take the OBE pin round to show them all.

“I genuinely don’t believe this is just for me, I think it’s for the whole school.

“I’m taking it as a tribute to everyone who has done their bit for Market Field.”

Mr Smith campaigned for years to get a new £10 million building for Market Field School and for its new sixth form college which opened in 2017.