Former Somerset cricketer and first class umpire Ken Palmer has been awarded the MBE in the New Years Honours list for his services to cricket.

Born in Winchester in 1937, Ken Palmer was brought up in Devizes where he made such an impression on the local cricket scene as an all rounder that he was recommended to Somerset for a trial where he eventually joined the staff in 1955.

During a playing career with the Cidermen that lasted until 1969, Ken played in 302 first class matches, scored 7567 runs including two centuries and took 837 wickets.

In 1961 at the age of twenty four he became the youngest ever player to achieve the `double' for Somerset when he scored 1036 runs and took 114wickets.

Two years later he finished second in the national bowling averages behind Fred Trueman after taking 139 wickets at 16.7 runs each, which included his career best of 9 for 57 against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.

Ken received recognition for his consistent form when he was selected by England on two occasions against the West Indies in 1963, only to be made twelfth man. Two years later in 1965 he made his only appearance for his country against South Africa at Port Elizabeth.

After his retirement from Somerset, Ken joined the first class umpires list in 1972 and for the next thirty years until he retired at the end of the 2002 season became one of the most respected umpires in the game. He officiated in 22 Test matches between 1978 and 1994 and 23 One Day Internationals between 1977 and 2001.

When he heard the news Ken who lives in Taunton told me: "I feel very proud to have been given this award for my services to the game that has given me a living from the time I was sixteen and I am very grateful to both Somerset and ECB for this."

On behalf of Somerset CCC, chief executive Peter Anderson told me: "Somerset are delighted for Ken Palmer who had a very long and successful playing career before going onto enjoy an equally successful career as an umpire. This is a fitting reward for his contributions to the game."