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Minnesota woman picked for royal honor

UPI News Service, 05/19/2007 

A Minnesota woman will be accorded one of Britain's highest honorary titles for her efforts to streamline the nation's healthcare system.

Quality healthcare expert Sheila Leatherman says she expects to be awarded the title of Honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire sometime this summer at a ceremony at the British ambassador's residence in Washington, the Star Tribune reported Saturday.

The 55-year-old Minneapolis woman first got wind of the impending royal honor in January when the British consulate left a phone message at her home. She officially got the good news Friday that her nearly 10 years of helping Britain drastically reduce the length of time Britons wait to receive healthcare had resulted in Queen Elizabeth II personally approving the award.

While Leatherman is pleased to receive the honor, she laughingly admits to some disappointment she won't receive the medal from the queen herself. "They still hold a grudge," she quipped, adding more seriously that "to make an even modest contribution was really meaningful to me."

Only about two dozen Americans have received the honorary title since 2001, the British Consulate in Chicago said.

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Copyright 2007 by United Press International

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