Northern Ireland skier Gallagher awarded MBE

Kelly Gallagher and guide Charlotte Evans with their MBEs at Buckingham Palace
Kelly Gallagher and guide Charlotte Evans have also won four World Championship medals

Northern Ireland skier Kelly Gallagher and her guide Charlotte Evans were awarded MBEs by the Princess Royal at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday.

The visually impaired Gallagher and Evans became the first Britons to win Winter Paralympics gold with victory in the Super-G in Sochi in March.

Gallagher said: "We've been really lucky to win a Paralympic medal but to be honoured in this way is incredible."

The 29-year-old also competed at the 2010 Winter Paralympics.

Gallagher, from Bangor, had been skiing for a number of years before she found international success with English guide Evans.

After skiing well but missing out on a medal in the 2010 Paralympics with a former partner, she teamed up with Evans.

At the World Championships the following year they won a silver in the slalom and bronze in the giant slalom.

The success came a few weeks after they had been working together and they won two more medals, also a silver and bronze, at the 2013 World Championships.

Evans, who guides her sports partner by skiing ahead and communicating via a headset as they travel at speeds of up to 75mph, said: "I don't think anything compares to it."

Speaking about the Paralympic gold, Evans added: "When we got home we realised we had got a great response - everyone had got behind us. I think they felt we belonged to them now.

"It's opened up so many doors - we've been able to go to things and inspire people, which we wouldn't be able to do before."