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Order of British Empire honor goes to woman of LI origin

Barbara Hendrie, a senior civil service officer in

Barbara Hendrie, a senior civil service officer in the British government's Department for International Development, is about to get one of England's highest honors.

For the past month, Elaine Hendrie has been living with the frustration of keeping a secret that only a proud mother can truly appreciate.

Her daughter, Barbara Hendrie, a senior civil service officer in the British government's Department for International Development, is about to get one of England's highest honors.

"She called me about a month ago and said I was sworn to secrecy," the Bellport woman said. "She said, 'I have some splendid news, but you can't say anything until it's published.' "

The secret was that she has been placed on the Honours List, the closely guarded list of people who will be invested this year by Queen Elizabeth II in the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

While several American citizens have been awarded honorary OBE's over the years, only British citizens can have the actual medal pinned on them at the queen's investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

Barbara Hendrie, 50, a social anthropologist, holds dual American and British citizenship. She had to become a British citizen in order to carry out some of her work. For the past year, she has been assigned as counselor to the British mission to the United Nations for international development.

Hendrie went to public school in Bellport and Sayville. She graduated with honors from Bowdoin College in Maine in 1980, and later did graduate work at University College in London.

After graduating from Bowdoin with a degree in English, she went to work for Oxfam International, a not-for-profit group that was helping people deal with a massive famine in Ethiopia, and has written several papers on the impact of famine.

Before she was assigned to New York a year ago, she spent nine months working in Baghdad for the British government's office of international development.

The British New Year's 2010 Honours List appeared in the London Gazette on Dec. 31. But London is five hours ahead of New York, and Hendrie told her parents they could now share the news.

"I'm very excited, very proud. How else can a parent feel. It's really wonderful," Elaine Hendrie said. "Certainly we'll go over for the investiture. I'm planning a party afterward for all her friends in London, when we find out when it is."

That will be another little secret. The medals are given out within six months of the posting of the list, but honorees usually get only about five weeks' notice of the actual event date.

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