Gary Wolstenholme received a priceless Christmas gift when he was told that he would be honoured with and MBE for services to sport.

Wolstenholme has become one of England’s most respected amateur golfers thanks to two decades of representing his country at the highest level. The 46-year-old has been a member of the past six GB&I Walker Cup sides and hopes to make it seven.

?I?ve been playing golf for over 40 years, having started when I was four,? he said. ?Although I?m 46 years old I feel I?m 46 years young. I am still very ambitious and want to achieve even more in the game. A seventh Walker Cup would be high on the list.?

The Englishman was informed he would receive his honour almost a month ago but was forced to keep it a secret.

?It?s a great honour and I?m very proud,? he said. ?I received a letter from the Prime Minister?s Office some three weeks ago and the biggest problem was not being able to tell anyone. It was burning a hole in my pocket so to speak.

?This means everything to me. It salutes the sacrifices I?ve made to the game over the past 20 years but this is not just for me. It is also for those people who have helped me achieve what I have. Those at my club, Kilworth Springs, those who have coached me over the years, the people who helped me when I was in Bristol, and especially my mother without whom I wouldn?t have achieved anything.?

?Being able to represent your country, be it England or GB&I, means more to me than all the individual stuff,? he added. ?The team events such as the Walker Cup and Eisenhower Trophy are thrilling and I would say winning the Eisenhower in Chile in 1998 would be my ultimate success.?

As well as at the Walker Cup, Wolstenholme has represented his country in three St Andrews Trophies and three Eisenhower Trophies.