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.
Who'd have thought it, Johnny boy from Bradford receiving a CBE from HRH Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace! Well done, @JohnKirkby, you totally deserve this! (Photo by PA Images) pic.twitter.com/fzF40ym6tK— CAPuk (@CAPuk) December 14, 2018
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.
There it is the CBE. That was quite a moment His Royal Highness Prince Charles presented the awar in behalf of Her Majesty pic.twitter.com/MVC38Yz3Bv— John Kirkby CBE (@JohnKirkby) December 13, 2018
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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