Former Inverkeithing High pupil Dr Keith Franklin (48), who has been on secondment from the National Nuclear Laboratory to the British Embassy in Tokyo since the Fukushima Daiichi accident in 2011, received the award for services to UK/Japan relations in the field of nuclear energy.

Prior to his move to the Far East, Dr Franklin held the post of business leader in the reactor chemistry and materials area, based at NNL’s Stonehouse office in Gloucestershire.

He also spent time in Japan between 1999 and 2001, working for British Nuclear Fuels Limited.

Recalling the moment he was told of the honour, Dr Franklin joked, “I was pretty speechless, actually!

“I work at the British Embassy and the ambassador called me in to tell me. I was a bit puzzled but then I was pretty open-mouthed!

“The immediate feeling was, ‘Wow! Other people are supposed to get these things!’ “This was not just me, lots of people are involved in the work we’re doing and to just be picked out individually among many, many people is very nice, but also very embarrassing – you think, ‘If it wasn’t for him or her, I wouldn’t have been able to do this or that’.” Dr Franklin was sworn to secrecy about the award, but said, “There was a lot of shouting down the phone when I could finally tell my mum and dad.” Outside the lab, he’s a keen cricketer, captaining the British Embassy cricket team in the Japan Cup, and organising a well-publicised match against a local team to draw attention to the recovery of the area around the Fukushima Daiichi site.

He paid tribute to his colleagues, adding, “If the links between the nuclear industries in the two countries are working successfully, then it’s down to the help and support of countless colleagues in both countries, not just me.

“I’m also grateful to my employer, NNL, for the chance to take up this unique and tremendously varied posting at a very challenging time for the nuclear industry in Japan.

“I’m really grateful to my old chemistry teacher at Inverkeithing High, Mr Wilkinson. He gave me my interest in chemistry. Without him I’d never have been in this position.” The Pars fan, whose family still live in Dalgety Bay, returns to West Fife twice a year, and tries to take in as many games at East End Park as possible – as well as fill up on tattie scones, scotch pies, bridies and smoked sausage suppers.