Residents of San Miguel receive MBEs

David Upjohn and Andrew Daniels receiving MBEs from the Princess Royal Credit: Buckingham Palace

Unbeknown to David Upjohn and Andrew Daniels – residents of San Miguel –  actions taken by others on their behalf six years ago would lead to an MBE for each of them.

For over twenty years, the couple had dedicated their lives to being specialist foster carers, providing a loving home for the most profoundly disabled and terminally ill children.

Andrew shared, “Many have said they couldn’t do what we did, that it would be too heartbreaking. But we found that by making every day special for a child who wasn’t guaranteed a tomorrow, we made our lives amazing, too.”

Their selflessness was so profound that several organisations and individuals felt compelled to write to the UK government to request that they be honoured.

Then, in May 2023, David and Andrew received a letter from St James Palace.  It was to advise them that the Prime Minister had been pleased to recommend to the King that they be made Members of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBEs).

“Our first reaction was both disbelief and incredulousness,” David said. “Surely, this had to be a hoax.”  But a hoax, it was not, and for five long weeks, they had to keep the news to themselves before the official notice came out, even though they wanted to shout it from the rooftops.

MBEs awarded at Buckingham Palace

The day they had been waiting for finally arrived on May 1 2024. They donned their morning suits and made their way to Buckingham Palace, where they were to be received by The Princess Royal, Princess Anne.

As Andrew recounted, “ We were led to a long gallery and given our instructions to enter the throne room with recipients to the left, guests to the right”  David added, “They then informed us that when our name was called, we would step forward until level with The Princess Royal, we would turn to face her and give a respectful bow before stepping forward; The Princess Royal would then attach the medal to a pin that would be applied to our lapel before engaging in a conversation with us.”

David was initially very nervous about speaking and suggested to Andrew that he do all the talking.  However, David had found his courage by their turn and, as Andrew put it, “sang like a canary”.  They were asked about their work, and they felt that she was genuinely interested.

A shake of the hand, and then it was all over. They exited the room to be presented with individual scrolls signed by King Charles III. Within them, they are described as loyal and well-beloved Members of the Order in mediaeval language.

They received their honours in front of family and friends, but in their minds were the children they had loved, lost and cared for over many years.

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Written by

Donna Williams

Marketer, copywriter, storyteller and President of Samaritans in Spain. They say variety is the spice of life and I am definitely loving life!