Prince Charles presented him with the Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire honour on behalf of the Queen during an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace.
Posting on Twitter afterwards, he said: “Only God could have taken us from where we were 26 years ago – in debt, lost, lonely and nothing to look forward to.
“Twenty-two years ago, CAP starts with £10 in our home office. Thanks everyone who has helped in any way, this is for us all.”
Mr Kirkby described himself as being “absolutely bowled over” in June this year when he was named in Her Majesty’s Birthday Honours list.
Since its inception in 1996, CAP has grown to open debt centres, jobs clubs for the unemployed and money management courses across the country.
Headquartered in Bradford, it has also expanded internationally – with operations in Australia, Canada and New Zealand.
Speaking in June, CAP’s chief executive, Matt Barlow, said: “No one could have put more into this than John has, and I know more than anyone that he didn’t do it for the recognition.
“However, I’m absolutely delighted – as we all are – to see him get this special award.”
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John Kirkby has dedicated his CBE to staff and volunteers – past and present – at Christians Against Poverty (CAP), the charity he founded 22 years ago.