Father so proud as RAF engineer son made an MBE for spy plane work
AN RAF engineer said he was "extremely proud" after being made an MBE for his work developing spy planes.
Squadron Leader Ben Clark, 35, was honoured in the Queen's New Year's lists for his efforts maintaining the Sentinel and Shadow aircraft, used for surveillance in Afghanistan.
His father, Paul, 58, who runs Derby building firm Westminster, said he was "over the moon" with the news.
Paul, of Quarndon, said: "He kept it a secret until New Year's Eve and then told us. I was amazed, it was fantastic to hear.
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"But, on the other hand, I'm not entirely surprised he has done so well. He works so hard. I see him every five to six weeks but I would like to see him more.
"He's in at work from 7am and often stays until midnight. I know it sounds farfetched but it's true."
Ben grew up in Middle Mayfield, Ashbourne, with his two younger brothers, Will and Charles.
He was educated at the Henry Prince C of E school before moving to Willington at eight years old and going to Willington Primary School before moving on to John Port School, Etwall.
From there he went to Cardiff University where he earned a first-class degree in mechanical engineering.
It was after this that he made the decision to join the RAF and trained at Cranwell in Lincolnshire.
Presently, Ben is working at the RAF High Wycombe base.
His father said: "I know it's sensitive work he can't really talk about but I know he's in communication with Downing Street.
"He has been working on the Sentinel and Shadow planes for years. Anyone who wants to fly one has to go through him."
The planes fly over huge areas, including war zones, feeding back information to UK armed forces. This data has led to improvements being made across the coalition forces in Afghanistan.
Mr Clark said his son, who lives in Lincolnshire with his wife, Rachel, and two children Amelia, five, and Joseph, two, was "embarrassed" about the honour.
He said: "I know he is extremely proud but the whole thing has slightly embarrassed him, too. But, when he's older, he'll be proud to have this after his name.
"At first, when he told me he was going to join the RAF, I was disappointed. He'd just come out of a degree and I thought he could do better. But I've completely changed my opinion.
"The career path is so strong and he's been promoted so quickly and he just loves his work."