The Queen’s Birthday Honours List recognises a wide range of extraordinary people across the United Kingdom. The awardees are acknowledged for their distinguished work and achievements in a specific field, in this instance "the Arts, Music and Dance".
Alex Mustard will receive his MBE or Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire medal in the next few months.
It's an incredible happy shock and I am delighted
I first came across Alex Mustard shortly after he took the decision to became a full time photographer. It was at the latter end of 2004, when a dive centre in Cayman called 'Ocean Frontiers' asked me to do some PR work for them. The islands has been battered by Hurricane Ivan with the Governor Bruce Dinwiddy describing the damage as "very, very severe and widespread."
Ocean Frontiers decided to run an event at the end of January 2005 called 'Digital Jam' to help kick start scuba diving in Grand Cayman.
There had been zero damage to Split Rock and Babylon and the reefs were exactly as they were before the storm. In fact the reefs looked cleaner with less algae, the visibility exceeded 30 metres and the water had returned to turquoise crystal blue. Ocean Frontiers staff had observed that the abundant fish life was going about their business as if nothing had happened.
" 'Digital Jam' promises to be a must for anyone with a passion for underwater digital photograph. For those of you who have never tried a digital camera, or who want to get more from your own, now is your chance. Dr Alex Mustard, Digital Guru and Marine Biologist, will be on site running interactive digital photography clinics and editing workshops during the week."
The PR shot I was sent to help promote Digital Jam was remarkable. It showed a photographer surrounded by fish, and I thought the innovative composition was in a completely different league to what I normally would receive. It made me remember the name 'Alex Mustard'.
It has therefore been fascinating watching Mustard's career flourish. He has won a number of awards including the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year.
In 2003 he received the Visions In the Sea Award for Outstanding Contributions to Underwater Photography. Ten years later, in 2013, Alex was named the GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year for his image Night Moves. The only time an underwater photograph has won this prestigious award. In 2016 he was given the ADEX 2016 Award for Extraordinary Contribution to Underwater Photography.
Alex Mustard founded the Underwater Photographer of the Year competition and has acted as a judge for the Wildlife Photographer of the Year, the CMAS World Championship of Underwater Photography, the European Wildlife Photographer of the Year, the British Wildlife Photography Awards and many other contests. He has been a committee member of the British Society of Underwater Photographers for the last 15 years and is Associate Editor of Wetpixel.com.
When I spoke to Alex Mustard he stated that he thought the official envelope was a tax bill, so he didn't immediately open it.
"I read the letter two or three times. Initially I wondered if it was a joke from a friend because I had no idea my name had been put forward. This is bigger than all of the other awards I have won.
It's an incredible happy shock and I am delighted to become an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours for my underwater photography. 15 years ago I made the difficult decision to leave science and do photography full time and it was a tough first few years, which makes this feel particularly great.
I met the Queen and Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh a number of years ago when I guided them round an exhibition in Estonia where my work had featured. The Queen is a keen photographer and was quite interested in how I get the photos.”