MILLERS chairman Tony Stewart has told of his shock after learning he was in line for an OBE, revealing: “I could've fallen off my chair.”
Mr Stewart (pictured) will pick up his latest piece of silverware at Buckingham Palace some time next year after being honoured for services to business and the community in Rotherham.
He received news of the gong a few weeks ago when wife Joan presented him with an official-looking letter.
“I thought something was wrong because she asked me to sit down — I wondered if maybe I was in for some bad news,” Mr Stewart recalled.
“I opened it and I just couldn’t believe it. I was paralysed — just stunned.
“But after a brief pause to come down from the ceiling I felt a mixture of being flattered, embarrassed and quite proud.
“There are people doing all sorts of wonderful things who never receive recognition like this — I have done so and I will cherish it.”
Lighting tycoon, who has bankrolled Rotherham United to three promotions in the past six years and brought the club back home from exile in Sheffield, would not be drawn on whether he would wear one of his trademark brightly-coloured blazers to the awards ceremony but joked that he would welcome the chance to “catch up” with the Queen after attending a garden party eight years ago.
Mr Stewart combines his role as chairman of the Millers with overseeing the fortunes of ASD Lighting, the Parkgate-based firm he founded.
He started working life as an apprentice electrician with the Coal Board but by the age of 26 he had started Tony Stewart Electricals.
Within a decade, his staff had grown from a single worker to a 22-strong team.
Now known as ASD Lighting, the firm, which specialises in energy efficient lighting and security systems, employs around 200 people.
The Millers’ fortunes under the stewardship of Mr Stewart have included one automatic promotion, two play-off final successes, one Wembley near miss and a disappointing relegation.
But the crowning glory of the chairman’s reign over Rotherham is the New York Stadium, which he once called “my finest achievement”.
Mr Stewart’s contribution to the town was recognised when he was given the freedom of the borough in 2014.