A HOCKLEY mum-of-two has spoken of the moment she met Prince Charles to be made an OBE - at the same ceremony were a host of famous famous received their accolade

Vanessa Vallely, 46, was awarded the accolade for services to women and the economy at Buckingham Palace.

She is managing director at We Are City, a company that helps women with their careers and campaigns for equal rights for women.

She was made an OBE at the same ceremony where actor Tom Hardy, who starred in Mad Max and Venom, was made a CBE, Winter Olympian gold medallist Lizzie Yarnold was made an OBE and boxer Anthony Joshua became an OBE.

Vanessa said: “It was an amazing experience and there were so many people there who have done so much for society.

“The palace is so beautiful and it was lovely to see first-hand all the things we see on television, such as the guards at the palace.

“One of the funniest moments was when we drove through the gates, the tourists outside the palace were all waving at us and taking pictures of us, as if we were famous.

“My daughters found that very funny, and I think a little embarrassing.

“Prince Charles is such a gentleman and it was lovely to meet him.

“I only had about thirty seconds with him, but he congratulated me and we spoke briefly about the lack of woman on corporate boards and positions in business.

“You have to walk backwards and curtsey again after meeting him and then you see others getting their awards, and then we had the photos taken outside the palace.”

The mother said she spent the weekend enjoying celebrating the award with her friends and family.

She was joined by her family on the day.

She said she feels this award is a good platform for her work and business.

She said: “It’s great to be recognised for my work helping the careers for women and girls and I want use the award to open more doors and opportunities for the women we help.

“I think this also helps shine a spotlight on Essex as a great place for business.

“The award will defiantly take pride of place in a special spot in our home, you are not allowed to wear it unless you are in the company of royalty.”

At the height of her successful 25-year career in the financial services, Vanessa launched the award winning WeAreTheCity.com in 2008 as a vehicle to help corporate women connect and grow professionally and personally.

WeAreTheCity.com now has over 120,000 members and serves 100 corporate organisations.

Vanessa is also the author of the book “Heels of Steel: Surviving and Thriving in the Corporate World”.