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Honours list reflects pandemic priorities but finds space for arts and heritage

31 December 2020


Rainbow drawings and messages of support for the NHS cover the windows of a college building opposite St Thomas’ Hospital in London, in July. Ten per cent of awards in the New Year Honours List 2021 (123) went to health and social-care workers

Rainbow drawings and messages of support for the NHS cover the windows of a college building opposite St Thomas’ Hospital in London, in July. Ten per ...

THE majority of awards in the New Year Honours List 2021 are for people working in their communities, with particular reference to the impact that they have made during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ten per cent (123) are health and social-care workers; 14.8 per cent are public-sector workers, and 803 of the recipients (65 per cent) are people described as having undertaken outstanding work in their communities, either in a voluntary or paid capacity. It is the most ethnically diverse list to date: 14.2 per cent of recipients coming from a BAME background.

A recurrent phrase is “particularly for service during the Covid-19 response”. The crisis is reflected in the many awards to people working in critical care. Clinical directors and lead nurses are especially well represented, the scale of their work indicated in many of their titles: MBEs for both Sarah Clarke, Director and Lead Nurse, Adult Critical Care and Major Trauma Operation Delivery Networks in Cheshire and Merseyside, and Joanna Snow, matron of the intensive care unit at Kettering Hospital in Northamptonshire.

Caroline Mason CBE, chief executive of the Esmee Fairbarn Foundation is among the highest placed, becoming a Dame Commander of the Order of the Bath. There are knighthoods for Peter Wanless CB, chief executive of the NSPCC, for services to children and young people and to the charitable sector, and Professor David Stuart FRS, Structural Biologist at the University of Oxford, for services to medical research and to the scientific community.

The teaching profession is represented, with the greatest weight given to those working with pupils with special educational needs. Joanne Heaton, chief executive of the Northern Lights Learning Trust, is appointed OBE for services to education in north-east England. The Trust is based at Benedict Biscop C of E Academy in Sunderland, and its other schools include St Peter’s C of E Primary School, Elwick, in Hartlepool. Beryl Jonsen, head teacher of Holy Trinity Primary School, Colchester, receives the British Empire Medal for services to education in Essex. Leonie Huie, head of health and social care at Bishop Challoner School, Shadwell, receives a BEM for services to education in Tower Hamlets, London.

Mercedes Henning, head teacher of Holy Trinity Primary School, Edington, in Wlitshire, is appointed MBE for services to education in the county. Helen McHugh, a Methodist circuit steward, is appointed MBE for services to education and to the Methodist Church in Northern Ireland. Marilyn Pound, chair of governors of Cardinal Wiseman Catholic School in Ealing, and Bruce Powell, lately chair of trustees, Haberdashers’ Aske’s Federation and the Treloar Trust, are also among those with an MBE for services to education.

There are fewer awards in the arts. Sheila Hancock CBE becomes a Dame and Lesley Manville OBE is appointed CBE for services to drama and to charity. The conductor and organist Wayne Marshall, a former organ scholar at St George’s Chapel, Windsor, is appointed OBE for services to music. Norma Carroll, formerly director of music of Coloma Convent Girls School, receives a BEM for services to education in Croydon. Two organists on the Isle of Man receive MBEs: the historian Charles Guard and the charity fund-raiser John Riley.

Religion rarely receives a specific mention. Margaret Croy is awarded a BEM for voluntary service to St Magnus Cathedral and to the community in Orkney. Stephen De Silva, who has been a volunteer at St Albans Cathedral for more than 40 years, is awarded an MBE for for services to heritage. Janet Arthur, who chairs the Historic Churches Trust in Leicestershire, and played a major part in the re-interment of King Richard III at Leicester Cathedral, is appointed MBE for services to the community. Anthony Spiro, joint president of the Wiener Holocaust Library is appointed OBE for voluntary service to Holocaust remembrance, and Carol Hart, head of volunteer and community services for the Association of Jewish Refugees, is appointed MBE for services to the Jewish community during the pandemic.

David Hartley, a volunteer with the Church Lads’ and Church Girls’ Brigades in Lancashire, receives a BEM for services to young people in Longridge. Andrew Barnett, a churchwarden of St Dunstan-in-the-West, in the City of London, who is the Director of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK), is appointed OBE for services to social change. Freda Davies, aged 83, is awarded the BEM for services to her community in Worcester, for her support of St Philip’s and St James’s, Hallow, and many charities for the past 50 years.

The awards reflect some of the key issues to emerge from the pandemic. Laura Alcock-Ferguson, founding director of the Campaign to End Loneliness, is appointed MBE for services to people experiencing loneliness in later life. There is also an MBE for Maxwell Milburn, for services to fund-raising especially for St Nicholas Hospice in Bury St Edmunds, which was founded by the late Canon Richard Norburn (Gazette, 1 December 2017). Another recipient is Dr Harold Moore, voluntary founder and chair of the Rainbows Hospice in Leicester.

A recurrent citation is “for services to the food supply chain and to the vulnerable during the Covid-19 response”. There are MBEs for Christine Bagley and David Bagley, co-founders of the Christian charity Urban Outreach, in Bolton, for services to the community particularly during the Covid-19 response: “Christmas On Jesus” was its most recent campaign to provide food for homeless people. The Bishop of Manchester, Dr David Walker, posted his response to the awards on Twitter: “Truly deserved honours for an inspirational couple whose faith in Christ continues to shine out through the amazing work they do fighting poverty in Bolton.”

Nigel Mellor, chair of Emmaus Merseyside, is appointed MBE for services to the homeless and disadvantaged in Merseyside. Nadeem Khan, charity helpline housing adviser and team leader at Shelter, receives a BEM for services to the homeless. Charandeep Singh, founder of the Sikh Food Bank, launched at the start of the first lockdown, also receives a BEM for services to charity. In the diplomatic list, Nick Guttmann, who retired as Christian Aid’s head of humanitarian, has been appointed OBE for services to humanitarian crises.

Two chaplains receive BEMs: the Revd Bernard Rumbold, chaplain to Cirencester and Highworth Squadron, RAF Air Cadets, for voluntary service to young people; and the Revd Glynne James, principal police chaplain to the South Wales Police, for services to police chaplains and to the community in Gorseinon, Swansea.

Pub landlords also feature in the list: many have supplied meals for the community while their establishments were forced to close under the restrictions. Richard Curtis, landlord of the Portsmouth Arms, Basingstoke, receives a BEM for services to charity and the community in Hampshire during the Covid-19 response. Caroline Halfhide is appointed MBE for changing her pub, The Bell, in Ash, Martock, in Somerset, into a village shop during the crisis.

Other citations demonstrate the issues being engaged with outside of Covid-19. Anita Goyal, from Brentwood in Essex, is appointed MBE for services to diversity and female empowerment; her work addresses female genital mutilation, menstrual discrimination, and human trafficking within minority groups. David Pearson, founder of the independent Christian charity Thirtyone:eight accepted his MBE for services to safeguarding the vulnerable on behalf of “survivors of abuse who bravely shared their pain”. Peacemakers are still being recognised in Northern Ireland. Raphaela Thynne is appointed MBE as coordinator of same-sex marriage and abortion consultations at the Northern Ireland Office, for services to equality in Northern Ireland.

The vital part played by retail is also recognised in many of the awards: “services to retail and the food supply chain” is a recurrent citation. Many chief executives of the supermarket chains are represented here. In contrast, there is an MBE for Veronica Main for “services to Straw Hat Plaiting and Endangered Crafts Skills” in Buckinghamshire.

The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said: “In a year when so many have made sacrifices to protect our NHS and save people’s lives, the outstanding efforts of those receiving honours today are a welcome reminder of the strength of human spirit and of what can be achieved through courage and compassion.

“As we begin a new year and come together to fight this virus, may their service and stories be an inspiration to us all.”

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