A solicitor and 'friend to the stars' was made a Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) on his 66th birthday in recognition of his charity work.

Michael Bonehill, of Little Gregories Lane in Theydon Bois, was included in the New Year’s Honours List on December 31.

Mr Bonehill, who is a consultant with Edwards Duthie Solicitors in Ilford, was recognised for his work with charities including the National Youth Theatre (NYT), where he is vice-president.

He has spent 40 years with the NYT and has worked alongside some famous faces along the way.

These include current James Bond star Daniel Craig, Hollywood A-lister Dame Helen Mirren, David Suchet who plays Belgian super sleuth Poirot and, outgoing Dr Who, Matt Smith.

He said: “I’ve known Dan Craig since he was about 14. I had to tell him off for being late when he was at NYT.”

Mr Bonehill gives up around 20 per cent of his time to charity work and has helped create a new arts centre at Chigwell School in High Road, Chigwell, as well as working with King Solomon School in Forest Road, Ilford.

He said: "I'm a great believer in education.

"I'm from a modest background and education got me to where I am."

The projects Mr Bonehill has been involved in have provided benefits, including new homes for charities, worth about £40 million.

He said: “It’s great but it isn’t just my work.

“It’s all a group effort and none of the work happens without everyone chipping in.

“It’s great fun. If you spend time doing just commercial legal work it could get a bit dull.”