05/09/11 — Former state representative earns British honor

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Former state representative earns British honor

By From staff reports
Published in News on May 9, 2011 1:46 PM

Former 3rd District Congressman and Wayne County native Martin Lancaster has been made an Honorary Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, according to reports published by the Raleigh News & Observer and the London Examiner.

Lan-caster, who also is a former head of the state community college system, received the honor Thursday from Prince Charles himself upon a trip to Washington last week following the wedding of his son, Prince William, to Kate Middleton.

Lancaster, who grew up on a tobacco farm in the Pikeville area, was honored for his work with work force development in Northern Ireland. He is a member of the Northern Ireland Employment and Skills Group and received an honorary doctorate from the University of Ulster in 2005.

While at the helm of the state's community college system, Lancaster worked to establish a relationship between North Carolina's community colleges and Northern Ireland's higher education systems.

The title is honorary. Only British citizens are eligible for the OBE.

Prince Charles was in the United States to deliver a speech at an environmental food conference and visit a community farm. He also met with President Obama while he was in the country.

Lancaster represented Wayne County in the state House of Representatives for several terms before spending four terms in Congress.

A Democrat, he was defeated for re-election in 1994 by Republican. Walter B. Jones Jr.

He has been a member of the Northern Ireland Employ-ment and Skills Group since 2003, helping to develop a work force in a region hit hard by economic woes.