A 78-YEAR-OLD diver from the Isles of Scilly who produced the definitive index of Britain's 45,000 shipwrecks, is among seven people from Cornwall to be honoured in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.
Richard Larn, who has been diving since he was 17, has been recognised with an OBE for services to nautical archaeology and marine heritage.
Mr Larn, who founded the Charlestown Shipwreck Heritage Centre in 1976 with his wife Bridget, said the honour had come as a complete surprise. Born in Norfolk and raised in Great Yarmouth before being evacuated to Oxford during the war, Mr Larn joined the Merchant Navy, going on to become 2nd officer. Twenty-two years' service in the Royal Navy followed. He left as a chief petty officer mechanician/diver.
He was bitten by the diving bug at just 17, a year before Jacques Cousteau made the activity famous. A Navy diver friend pointed out an ad in Exchange and Mart for German U-boat escape sets.
"They were 10 shillings a set, so we invested £1 and bought two," he said. "I was living in Oxford, so we went to the banks of the River Thames, held hands and jumped in. We landed right on top of a sunk steamer, which had been left for so long that it had sunk on its mooring."
While in the Navy, he became involved in shipwreck discovery, salvage and archaeology – bringing a team to the Isles of Scilly to investigate the wreck of HMS Association.
Mr Larn lived in Charlestown for 31 years before moving to the Isles of Scilly 11 years ago. He was made a bard of the Gorsedd two years ago.
Mr Larn said he was particularly proud of nine years' worth of work, with his wife, on the seven-volume Shipwreck Index of the British Isles for the Lloyd's Register of Shipping.
Also among those honoured is Caroline Drummond, 45, who receives an MBE for services to agriculture.
The chief executive of Leaf (Linking Environment and Farming) UK, who lives near Liskeard, South East Cornwall, said she was "shocked" and felt "extremely honoured".
She said: "I feel very, very lucky to be able to do a job I feel very passionate about, a job that allows me to exploit everything I believe in about sustainable farming and getting the public to engage with it."
Another leading figure in Cornish agriculture, David Rodda, has also been honoured with an MBE for services to the industry.
Mr Rodda, who lives near Hayle, West Cornwall, has led Cornwall Agri-Food Council, in an era which has seen the industry's value rise from £900 million to in excess of £1.5 billion a year. He said he was "very proud" to receive the award but stressed he had been just one element of a wide partnership.
Also given MBE's were Truro's Peter Wilton Davies, DL, for services to the community and Esmond Havelock Melville Harris, from Calstock in South East Cornwall, for services to forestry and to conservation.
Awarded Royal Victorian Orders are Colin Adair Sherman Sturmer, MVO, a former land steward of the Duchy of Cornwall (CVO) and Duchy of Cornwall finance director Keith Charles Willis (LVO).