The uncle of golf star Graeme McDowell has been awarded the British Empire Medal in the New Year’s Honours list.
Uel Loughrey, who helped Graeme off on his journey to become a major winning golfer, said he was shocked and surprised when he received the news.
“I really wasn’t expecting it,” he told Times Sport.
“I got a letter about six weeks ago saying I had been nominated, I think it was by someone at Rathmore, but they are keeping very quiet about it!
“So my wife filled in the letter and on Christmas Eve we received notification that I have to attend an event at Hillsborough Castle on May 13th.
“It was fantastic news to get just before Christmas, as I say I’m delighted and shocked.”
Uel was awarded the honour for his services to golf and he told Times Sport he enjoys coaching the young players more than actually playing the game now.
“I just get so much out of it,” he said.
“I’ve been doing it for over 30 years now and and it’s something I love, in fact I probably love it more than playing the game now.
“I spend a couple of hours with the young players every Saturday, and in the summer I take them out for a round every Friday night.
“It’s great to be able to give something back to the game and encourage young players to take up the sport.”
As well as helping Graeme get started in the sport Uel also coached Alan Dunbar and Wayne Telford.
He revealed Graeme was one of the first to congratulate on his honour.
“Graeme sent me a lovely letter congratulating me which was fantastic,” said Uel.
“I’m very proud of what he has achieved in the game.
“His dad was the one who first got him interested in the sport and I coached him in those early years.
“I even caddied for him when he won his first couple of tournaments.
“It was fantastic to see him achieve success. A lot of people maybe thought it was a dream to become a professional, but I could see he had something about him and I’m delighted he has gone on to be so successful.”