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New Year Honours for those in the Covid frontline

Alistair Forbes

Alistair Forbes: honoured for setting up Scottish Tech Army

Hundreds of public sector and community workers are honoured in the 2021 New Year Honours List for their commitment to helping others during the coronavirus pandemic.

Britain’s business sector is rewarded, with 111 recipients (9% of the total) receiving recognition for contributions such as diverting their resources or changing business models, as well as to supermarket workers for making sure vulnerable customers were stocked up with essential items.

In a year that has tested the resolve and determination of those on the frontline, the list of 1,239 recipients includes firefighters, medical professionals, teachers, police officers and local government workers. Public sector workers make up 14.8% of the total.

This year’s list is the most ethnically diverse honours list yet, with 14.2% of recipients coming from a Black, Asian or minority ethnic background. 

The majority of awards are for the contributions people have made in their communities. Of those receiving an award, 65% are recognised for their community work. 

Charandeep Singh

Charandeep Singh: BEM

British Empire Medals go to Alistair Forbes and Peter Jaco who co-founded the Scottish Tech Army; Keith John Desmond Rutherford, postmaster, Colonsay Post Office; Charandeep Singh, founder of The Sikh Food Bank, and deputy CEO at the Scottish Chambers of Commerce; and Barnabas Cox, of 3D printing and design consultancy Open Factory.

Architect David Chipperfield, whose firm is behind plans for the new concert hall in Edinburgh, is awarded a Companion of Honour, for services to architecture. 

Among those knighted are Formula One racing driver Lewis Hamilton, Dave Lewis, former chief executive of Tesco, and Robert Chote, head of the Office for Budget Responsibility

Former Coatbridge and Airdrie MP and government minister Thomas Clarke and Geoffrey Cox QC MP also receive knighthoods, as does Stirling University principal and vice chancellor Professor Francis Gerard McCormac.

Actor Sheila Hancock receives a damehood for services to drama and charity, as does conductor and musicologist Professor Jane Glover for services to music, and make-up artist Patricia McGrath for services to the fashion, the beauty industry and to diversity. 

A damehood is also awarded to Angela Eagle MP for parliamentary and political service.

Academy Award nominee Lesley Manville is made a CBE for services to drama and charity, and actor Toby Jones, who counts the Harry Potter franchise among his many film credits, becomes an OBE.

Peel Ports executive and Celtic director Tom Allison becomes a CBE, as does Peter Dawson, chief executive and Secretary of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club at St Andrews, and Caroline Jane Gardner, former auditor general for Scotland.

Professor Sheila Rowan, director of the Institute for Gravitational Research at the University of Glasgow and chief scientific adviser for Scotland, becomes a CBE for services to science.

CBEs are also conferred on Professor Petra Wend, lately principal and vice-chancellor, Queen Margaret University; Professor Wendy Anne Bickmore of Edinburgh University; Professor Allister Ian Ferguson of Strathclyde University.

Richard Paterson

Richard Paterson: master blender

Among those receiving the OBE are Richard Paterson, master blender, Whyte and Mackay; Judith Anne Halkerston, chairman of digital firm Symphonic; Gunther Alois Newcombe, lately director, Operations, Oil and Gas Authority; William Paterson, for services to the Scottish economy and to the community; Alan and Linda Stewart, hairdressers.

Former England footballers Jimmy Greaves and Ron Flowers become MBEs, as does Captain Emma Henderson, living in Moray, for founding a first class lounge experience in hospitals in the UK for NHS workers. Ashley Nicholson, President, UK Harbour Masters Association and Senior Harbour Master, Forthports, also becomes an MBE.

The oldest person on the list is Anne Baker from Salisbury in Wiltshire, who at 106 years old receives the same honour for fundraising for the NSPCC.

The youngest recipient is 20 year old Samah Khalil, the Youth Mayor of Oldham. She receives a BEM for her work in empowering young people. 

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.

“The 2021 New Year Honours offer us an opportunity to salute their dedication and recognise many who have gone above and beyond in their contribution to our country.

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

The honours system continues to champion diversity at all levels and celebrates the breadth of service given by people from all backgrounds from all across the UK. Of the 1,239 people who receive an award

  • 1,123 candidates have been selected at BEM, MBE and OBE level: 
    • 397 at BEM
    • 476 at MBE 
    • 250 at OBE
  • 803 (65%) of the recipients are people who have undertaken outstanding work in their communities either in a voluntary or paid capacity;
  • 603 women are recognised in the List, representing 49% of the total;
  • 14.2% of the successful candidates come from a BAME background; 
  • 6.9% of the successful candidates consider themselves to have a disability (under the Equality Act 2010); and
  • 4% of recipients identified as being LGBT+.


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