FORMER Worcestershire County Council chief executive Clare Marchant said she was still in disbelief after being given a damehood in the King’s Birthday Honours.

Dame Clare, who led universities and colleges admissions service Ucas during the Covid-19 pandemic, has been recognised for services to higher education.

The 51-year-old, from Malvern, who left Ucas in September after more than six years in charge, said she was 'hugely privileged' to be given the honour.

Dame Clare started her career in manufacturing, before moving to management consultancy with Deloitte and was later chief executive of Worcestershire County Council.

She is now vice-chancellor of the University of Gloucestershire.

She said: “I’m just in disbelief and hugely privileged.

“It’s all about the team at the end of the day, so there are a load of people to say thank you to when the time is right.

“It’s just a huge honour. I gave my everything to Ucas for over six years and am really proud of what I’ve achieved there.”

Dame Clare was at the helm of Ucas in August 2020 during the grading debacle, which led to thousands of A-level students having their results downgraded from school estimates by an algorithm, before a U-turn was made.

She added: “We had to effectively re-run results day. In England and Wales, we went to effectively centre-assessed grades.

“So we had that whole week where it was quite uncertain for students and talking to them about their options on results day 2020 was particularly difficult.”

Worcester's Charles Byrne, laterly director general of the Royal British Legion, was given a CBE for services to veterans.

Kathleen Coombes, from Malvern, was awarded an OBE for services to people with communication and swallowing difficulties.

Malvern's Falklands War hero Kevin Ebsworth was given an MBE for services to armed forces veterans and to charity in Herefordshire.

Andrea Ellison, from Pershore, was rewarded for her services as chief librarian at Leeds Libraries with an OBE.

Also scooping an OBE was Mervyn Leggett, from Evesham, who was honoured for his services to the beautiful game in his role as a council member for the Football Association.