GWENT cycling legend Bill Owen received his MBE from the Duke of Cambridge at Buckingham Palace on Friday, describing the day as a “once in a lifetime experience”.

The honour recognised more than 50 years of service to cycling in Wales and Mr Owen collected the award with his wife Brenda and their family.

During his five decades in cycling Mr Owen has served as president and chairman of the Welsh Cycling Union, which governs the sport of cycling in Wales, where he was instrumental in bringing an Olympic-sized indoor velodrome to Newport in 2003.

It was only the second velodrome of its kind in the UK the other being in Manchester.

Mr Owen, reflecting on the visit to Buckingham Palace, said: “It was a very proud moment to be at the palace with family for my investiture and to receive the honour from our future king.

“I was so impressed with the professionalism of Prince William who spoke to me informally about how he knew and liked Abergavenny.”

A Welsh Road Race champion in 1963, Mr Owen retired early from racing to set up his own construction business. He married his wife Brenda on New Year’s Eve, 1966, and the couple kicked off a memorable 2017 by celebrating their golden wedding anniversary.

Mr Owen is also known for staging the inaugural National Championships in Abergavenny in 1996 and organising the Nationals in Cardiff in 2001. In 2005, he brought the first staging of the Women’s World Cup to the Celtic Manor.

He was also one of the longest serving directors of the national governing body of British Cycling from 2002, when membership was 10,000, until 2015 which saw membership rise to more than 100,000 and is a recipient of their Gold Badge of Honour.

As a result, he was inducted into the British Cycling Hall of Fame.

Mr Owen will cap a remarkable 2017 by celebrating a decade since he revived the Abergavenny Festival of Cycling, which this year takes place on June 24-25. The Town Centre Series races will also run in Abergavenny on July 7.

* Bill Owen received the accolade in the New Year Honours List alongside several other figures from Gwent.

This includes Oakdale heart screening campaigner June Thomas, Wendy Warren, of Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and Monmouthshire council leader Peter Fox. Other MBE recipients include Paralympic veteran Hollie Arnold of Ystrad Mynach, Patricia Dodd, of Monmouth, chief methodology officer with the UK Statistics Authority. Former Monmouth GP, Dr David Steiner, received a OBE for charity work in Africa and Theresa Thomas, of Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, received a BEM for services to nursing.