An athletics coach who "has changed the lives of so many people" was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list 2014.

George Harrison, of Gallows Hill Lane, Abbots Langley, was nominated for the award for "services to athletics" after coaching middle distance runners for 40 years.

Having overseen athletes who competed at Olympic and World Championship events, George told the Watford Observer that people have been saying "it’s about time" that he was nominated for the award.

The former marathon-runner said: "I am very pleased. It is quite amazing how many people that are getting in touch. The phone hasn’t stopped going and we’re still receiving cards.

"I got a phone call from Eric Shirley, whose father went to two Olympic Games and he said ‘you have changed the lives of so many people'."

George, who coaches more than 50 runners on the cricket ground at Woodside Stadium on Saturdays said his coaching methods are based on the same coaching he received from Johnny Hovell 60 years ago.

In addition to a strong local coaching career, George was selected as British team manager for seven years.

Between 1988 and 1995, the coach took athletes to the Caribbean for various competitions and grand prix.

He said: "Some of the athletes, when they come to me, they can’t break five minutes when they are doing 1,500 metres, but when they later get inside the 4 minute mile, that is what I look at.

"In the late eighties we had four athletes running inside four minutes for the mile."

The 81-year-old is head of cross country and track and field at St Albans Boys School and coaches up to 50 athletes every day.

George also coaches Karl Langford, 18, an 800 metre runner who lives in Garston and is described by his coach as "Britain’s number one junior".

He receives funding from British Athletics for the teenager, who recently ran one min 47 seconds and also came third at the World Youth Championships.

George is also a member and former president of Shaftesbury Barnet Harries and Highgate Harriers athletic clubs.