Coronation Street star Antony Cotton has said he is “completely overwhelmed” as he was made an MBE.
The actor, who is best known for his role as Sean Tully on the long-running soap, has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to British Army, personnel and veterans.
The 46-year-old, whose roles also include Alexander Perry in Russell T Davies’ popular series Queer As Folk, is also a comedian and talk show host.
In July last year Cotton met the monarch during a royal trip to the set of Coronation Street, where she met the cast and crew to celebrate the ITV show’s 60th anniversary.
Speaking about the honour, he said: “I am completely overwhelmed by this honour, especially as it has come during the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
“Working with our amazing armed forces, in particular the Army, has truly been the greatest honour of my life. To have a soldier, of any age or rank, come to me and entrust me with their stories, their experiences and especially their worries, has been life changing.
“When I am asked why I spend my spare time helping with the welfare of our soldiers and veterans, the answer is a simple one – I feel it is my duty, and it has genuinely become my life’s work.
“The British Army has made significant improvements in the way they approach mental health over the past decade, and I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in some of those changes, and also in the way the Army delivers their welfare programme.
“As with most things, there is still some way to go but I’m very proud of the work we’ve done so far.
“I share this award with every single person who has ever fought for our country – I am incredibly humbled and honoured to be in your company. Thank you for your service.”
Cotton has been involved with the military community since 2008 and was named as the first celebrity ambassador for military charity the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA).
He is also a patron of Help For Heroes and was made the SSAFA’s 2022 ambassador for the defence inclusivity category.
The actor’s official association with the charities began following the return of a close friend from Afghanistan, who needed support.
He has recently worked alongside the British Army on its mental health and resilience training programme, OPSMART.
Cotton has enjoyed a long and varied career and has picked up various awards for his role in Coronation Street, including National Television Awards and a British Soap Award for best actor in 2007.
John Whiston, managing director of continuing drama and head of ITV in the North, said: “Everyone at Coronation Street is hugely excited about this incredibly well deserved honour.
“We are proud of Antony’s tireless charity work on behalf of the armed forces and mental health resilience, causes he feels passionately about.
“We are delighted this has been recognised in the Platinum Jubilee Honours lists.”
Cotton was born in Bury, Greater Manchester, and attended Woodhey High School in Ramsbottom and the Oldham Theatre Workshop.
He has played the role of barman Tully on Coronation Street since 2003, and as well as the original UK series of Queer As Folk, also made appearances in episodes of Absolutely Fabulous.
In 2007 he was given his own teatime chat show The Antony Cotton Show, though it was not renewed for a second series.
The actor has taken part in multiple game shows including Family Fortunes, I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! and Dancing On Ice.
Earlier this year Cotton, who took to the ice as part of the line-up in 2018, returned to the show briefly to make a cameo appearance alongside Coronation Street co-star Sally Dynevor.
The performance opened in a recreation of Audrey’s salon from the beloved soap opera.
In March 2013 he won Let’s Dance For Comic Relief.