A specialist dentist, who treats children with educational needs and disabilities, feared a citation letter telling him he was to become an MBE was a tax demand.

When Paul Leach received the official looking envelope, the last thing he expected was news of the award for his 35 years of service within north-west Wales.

“When I got the letter I thought it was a tax demand, as it was an official envelope,” he said. “It was a real surprise and the hardest thing has been keeping quiet about it.”

However, Paul revealed he was happy to accept the award on behalf of “the health board, his team members and the community dental service”.

He said: “I do enjoy my job. I like going to work and I like the teamwork and meeting various people.

“It’s nice when you can sort patients’ problems out for them. I get satisfaction from being able to help. If I qualified again I would do the same thing.”

The married father-of-three who gained his first post in the region in 1989, after going to school on the Isle of Man and then studying at Manchester University, has become known for treating children with special needs and disabilities, something he said happened organically.

“You sort of get a name for being able to do certain things,” he said.

His citation references his special line of work. It said: “Paediatric and special care dentist. For services to children with special educational needs and disabilities in north west Wales.”

Now he is awaiting a date to receive his MBE from King Charles III in London and it’s not just him who is excited about the prospect.

“I’m looking forward to meeting the King but I think my wife is looking forward to it more than me,” he said. “She’s already looking for a new dress.”

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board director of primary care Karen Higgins said: “In a world where our population is ageing and the focus is often on that area of health, it is lovely to see Paul being valued for his focus on our younger, more vulnerable patients and making sure they have equal access to high quality dental care. He truly deserves the honour.”

The 68-year-old is the only paediatric community specialist in north Wales.

Many of the children he deals with have severe behavioural and medical problems, and his communication with both the children and their parents is exceptional.

His passion for the service is exemplified in the extra roles he consistently takes on to make this an exemplary service.

He treats children with special needs in theatre in Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor. Without him, these children would have to travel to Liverpool for treatment, a journey that would be extremely daunting for them.