ENC bird park founder receives the largest honor UK can give

SCOTLAND NECK, N.C. (WITN) – The founder of a bird park here in Eastern Carolina received a high honor from another country.

Mike Lubbock started Sylvan Heights Bird Park 18 years ago, receiving many different awards and honors since the park opened.

“Today is just another momentous occasion. It’s very exciting so many people are coming in from all around the world to be here,” said Brent Lubbock, the Sylvan Heights Operations Director and Mike’s son.

But today, King Charles III is honoring Mike Lubbock right here at his bird park with the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

Mike said this was one of his highest recognitions by far. “The greatest award you can get, especially from your home country,” said Mike Lubbock, the founder of the park.

A National Geographic Wildlife photographer and other known international wildlife conservationists spoke at the ceremony.

“It’s a major, major honor. There’s not many people in America that actually get to receive it. Most of the people that receive this honor are in the UK,” said Brent Lubbock.

Mike Lubbock has used Sylvan Heights Bird Park to save birds from extinction and to reach countless members of his community and beyond.

“Each year, we grow more. It’s very popular and I’m proud of that. A lot of schools, education,” said Mike Lubbock.

He received the medal and was surrounded by friends and family on Tuesday afternoon.

“I’m very, very proud to be here today, but it’s not Mike for me. It’s Uncle Mike, so yeah, very happy to be here,” said Ali Bennett, Mike’s niece.

This ceremony is typically done in England, but it’s being done here in the U.S. for health reasons, and Lubbock says that makes it even more special to get this award surrounded by his friends and family.

According to the UK’s Central Chancery website, this award is the largest order of chivalry in the United Kingdom, recognizing outstanding contributions by individuals within their local communities.