LEIGH'S 2012 Paralympic hero Heather Frederiksen shrugged off illness to collect her MBE at Buckingham Palace.

The 27-year-old swimmer went to London last Thursday with her parents John and Lynne Frederiksen to receive her MBE from The Princess Royal.

Heather, who won a gold and three silver medals at the London Games, was awarded an MBE for services to swimming.

And she admitted that before going up to receive her award from Princess Anne: "I was more nervous than before the 100 metres backstroke, I kept thinking 'what if I fall out of my chair?'

"As far as an achievement goes receiving the MBE is one of the most special experiences."

Now Heather, who was brought-up in Leigh but now lives at Lowton, is battling a strength-sapping chest condition that put her in intensive care before Christmas.

"At the moment and I am just trying to get fit and healthy. It started with an asthma attack then I developed pneumonia. I spent four days in intensive care and two and a half weeks in hospital," she said.

Heather said her priority was getting back to health before she could think about resuming training.

Proud mum Lynne said: "She got a gold in Beijing and another in London but to actually be made an MBE is the icing on the cake after winning her medals and having a gold postbox in her honour in Leigh town centre and having her face put on a Royal Mail postage stamp.

"We never dreamt of the success she would enjoy after she began having lessons at Howe Bridge Pool at five years old when she was at Leigh CE Infants School. When she was seven she got her distance badges and it just went from there."

Now this year promises to be as memorable as the last one was with Heather, who now lives in Lowton, due to marry Paul Walmsley from Westhoughton on September 27 at Worsley Court House.