One of Cambridgeshire's oddest traditions gets under way this morning...
Gareth Malone Collects His OBE
Dorset-born music maestro Gareth Malone has described his joy at being awarded an OBE after an eventful 2012 he dubbed his ''annus mirabilis''.
The choirmaster's infectious enthusiasm and love of music seen on his popular BBC show The Choir has inspired singers across the country.
Malone led his most famous students, the Military Wives choir, on two chart-topping singles last year and had the honour of conducting them on the Queen's Christmas Day broadcast.
He received his award from the Princess Royal in an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace and said after the ceremony:
''She was asking me very sweetly had life calmed down after the furore of last year and I was telling her, no, it hadn't really.
''2012 was, to adapt the Queen's phrase, an annus mirabilis. It was just unbelievable, everything happened to me and to get the OBE was a wonderful moment in that year.''
Malone said he owed his love of music to his parents, who sang in a local choir, and he went on to sing in an ensemble at his grammar school in Bournemouth.
He later studied drama at the University of East Anglia - composing, singing and directing for a student drama group.
He developed his choral work further with a post-graduate degree in singing at the Royal Academy of Music and it was while working with choirs as an animateur at the London Symphony Orchestra that he was approached by TV producers about working on their new project.
The resulting series, The Choir, was seen by more than three million viewers and he has gone on to work on more choir TV projects, as well as children's programmes.
Malone famously took his Military Wives choir to number one over the festive season in 2011.
He guided the women again when they featured on Gary Barlow's Diamond Jubilee anthem Sing - another chart-topper - conducting them when they performed at the Jubilee concert last summer.
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