21 Oct 2008

Pitcairn Islander gets British honour

4:14 pm on 21 October 2008

A Pitcairn Islander, Betty Christian, has been awarded an Order of the British Empire for her 44 years of service to the island at a ceremony in Wellington.

Ms Christian began her career as a radio operator in 1963 when the island's community links to the outside world relied on Morse code.

Her role was especially important in medical emergencies, when her skills to contact passing ships were a matter of life or death.

She says she's humbled to have become a member of the order.

"Oh it's really awesome, I mean, I never ever expected anything like this would happen to me. It's a great honour."

Betty Christian says one of the highlights of her career was coordinating the rescue of 29 seamen on their way from New Zealand to Panama in the 1980s.