Extraordinary public service at centre of Queen’s New Year Honours List


The New Year Honours list recognises the achievements of a wide range of extraordinary people across the United Kingdom.

The New Year Honours List 2021, published on Thursday 31 December, demonstrates the incredible efforts of hundreds of public sector and community workers throughout 2020 and beyond.

The New Year Year Honours List is the most ethnically diverse honours list yet, with 14.2% of recipients coming from a Black, Asian or minority ethnic background.

In a year that has truly tested the resolve and determination of those on the frontline, the New Year Honours List includes 1,239 recipients, recognised for their extraordinary contributions in all four nations of the United Kingdom.

Public sector workers make up 14.8% of the list and include firefighters, medical professionals, teachers, police officers and local government workers – all of whom are being recognised for making a huge individual impact, and in particular in the response to COVID-19.

An MBE goes to Special Chief Officer Mark Owen, who returned from retirement to lead the Special Constabulary’s response in North Wales.

An MBE goes to Karen McDowell for services to the LGBTQ community and fire service in Northern Ireland.

Charity Helpline Housing Adviser for Shelter Nadeem Khan receives a BEM – unable to return to the UK because of the Covid-19 pandemic, he worked from his personal laptop from a rooftop in Lahore, Pakistan delivering housing advice to over 500 people over three months via web chat to people over 5,000 miles away in the UK.

Included in the List are 123 (10%) health and social care workers – from British Red Cross Ambulance Crew to care home managers – all have played a part in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A BEM goes to Cath Fitzsimmons from Greater Manchester, a former palliative care nurse who came out of retirement for COVID-19.

Dr Azeem Alam, 28 years old from Harpenden, Herts receives the BEM for founding BiteMedicine, which provides free medical education for medical students, physician associates and aspiring doctors during COVID-19, teaching over 10,000 students worldwide via online, live webinars.

Deputy Director of Nursing Jacky Copping, 55 from Beccles, Suffolk, receives an MBE for initiating Face Fit Testing at the James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust ensuring that frontline workers were properly protected against Covid-19.

This Honours List highlights how Britain’s business sector has stepped up to deliver for the country during COVID-19. From small business owners diverting their resources or changing business models to support the response effort to supermarket workers making sure all their vulnerable customers were stocked up with essential items – this Honours List showcases 111 recipients (9%) being recognised for services to business and the economy.

Publican Caroline Halfhide, aged 51 from Ash in Somerset receives MBE for changing her pub into a village shop for residents to drastically minimise the need for travel to nearby towns for food and essentials.

Founder and CEO of Pembrokeshire Frame, Jennifer Sims, 76 years old, receives the BEM for launching #Bagsofcare Community Fridge Free Bags Scheme, providing hot meals and free bags of food to the vulnerable, the elderly and those struggling financially due to the pandemic.

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.

Captain Emma Henderson, living in Moray in Scotland receives an MBE for founding Project Wingman, creating a first class lounge experience in hospitals in the UK for NHS workers.

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

She is closely followed by 104 year old Ruth Saunders, receiving an MBE for walking a marathon to raise money for Thames Valley Air Ambulance.

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.

Architect David Chipperfield is awarded a Companion of Honour, for services to architecture.

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. The Right Honourables Geoffrey Cox QC MP and Thomas Clarke MP receive knighthoods for parliamentary and political service, and public and political service respectively.

In sport, Director of Rugby at Exeter Chiefs Robert Baxter receives an OBE and Captain Joe Simmonds receives a MBE, both for services to Rugby Union Football. Former professional rugby player Rob Burrow receives an MBE for the awareness he has raised around motor neuron disease particularly during the pandemic. MBEs are also awarded to former England footballers Jimmy Greaves and Ron Flowers for services to football.

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+.
  • Read the full New Year Honours list here.


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