Skier Kelly Gallagher and boxing's Billy McKee honoured

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Paralympic gold medallist skier Kelly Gallagher describes being made an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List as "surreal".

Northern Ireland-born Paralympic gold medallist Kelly Gallagher and her guide Charlotte Evans have been awarded MBEs in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.

And amateur boxing stalwart Billy McKee from Belfast, who guided Carl Frampton in his early career, is to receive the British Empire Medal.

McKee is a long-serving volunteer at the Midland Amateur Boxing Club.

Carl Frampton pictured with amateur coach Billy McKee
Belfast super-bantamweight fighter Carl Frampton pictured with amateur coach Billy McKee

Visually impaired skier Gallagher from Bangor won gold in the giant slalom event at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

The 29-year-old receives the accolade "for services to sport for people with a visual impairment".

Evans, from Kent, is recognised "for services to Paralympic sport".

Gallagher was the first Great Britain athlete ever to win Paralympic gold at a Winter Games.

She has oculocutaneous albinism, a condition with affects the pigment in her hair, skin and eyes.

Kelly started skiing for the first time when she was 17 on a trip to Andorra and began working with Evans in late 2010, just months after finishing fourth in the Giant Slalom at the Vancouver Games with previous guide Claire Robb.

The pair communicate on their way down the slopes via bluetooth headsets as they travel at speeds of up to 100km/h.

Since linking up, they have won silver and bronze medals in the 2011 and 2013 World Championships, as well as World Cup honours.

Gallagher and Evans have already targeted more golds at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

"This is just surreal - it's similar to how I felt when I was told that I'd won the gold medal," said Gallagher.

"It's the most fabulous honour that could be bestowed on us and it's something very special for us to share. It was difficult to keep it a secret."

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