Birthday Honours 2021: Covid vaccine heroes recognised by Queen

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  • Queen's Birthday Honours

image copyrightGetty Images/PA Mediaimage captionKate Bingham and Prof Sarah Gilbert are recognised for their work in vaccine design and delivery

Key figures from the UK's Covid vaccine programme, and community volunteers who helped during the pandemic, lead the Queen's Birthday Honours list.

Oxford vaccine developer Prof Sarah Gilbert and the former chair of the UK vaccine taskforce Kate Bingham are both recognised with damehoods.

They are joined by TV chef Prue Leith and choreographer Arlene Phillips, while actor Jonathan Pryce is knighted.

England footballer Raheem Sterling is appointed MBE.

He receives the award for services to racial equality in sport, amid a controversy over the national side taking a knee before matches.

Some 15% of recipients are from an ethnic minority background – the highest proportion to date.

Overall, 1,129 people are on the list issued by the Cabinet Office.

image copyrightGetty Imagesimage captionManchester City forward Raheem Sterling was appointed MBE after fronting anti-racism and anti-discrimination campaigns and speaking out strongly against racism on and off the pitch for several yearsimage copyrightGetty Imagesimage captionActor Jonathan Pryce is made a knight, singer Alison Moyet becomes an MBE, along with performer Engelbert Humperdinck, and Scottish star Lulu has been appointed CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honoursmedia captionFormer vaccine chief Kate Bingham "very proud and very honoured" to become dame

Singer Lulu and broadcaster Sue Barker become CBEs, and veteran performer Engelbert Humperdinck is appointed MBE for services to music.

Also in the showbiz world, actress Ruth Wilson, who stars as Mrs Coulter in book-based fantasy drama His Dark Materials, becomes an MBE for services to drama.

But it is the hundreds who have dedicated themselves to tackling the coronavirus response – from caring neighbours, frontline and community heroes, to those supporting the UK recovery – who make up the majority of the list.

This continues a trend set in both the New Year Honours and the delayed Birthday Honours in October, which is expected to continue "for many rounds to come", according to the Cabinet Office.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the list was a way of paying tribute "to all those who have gone above and beyond in their service to this country".

He said the pandemic had seen "countless examples of everyday heroes", adding: "We should take heart from the stories of those receiving honours today and be inspired by their courage and kindness. May they be a reminder of all that we can achieve when we come together as a society."

Prof Gilbert becomes a dame for her key role in creating the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which has been given to tens of millions of people around the world.

She said it was important to recognise "the large number of people who worked very hard to get this vaccine developed, manufactured, tested in trials… and now the people working on the vaccine rollout".

  • Who is the woman who designed the Oxford vaccine?

Venture capitalist Ms Bingham is similarly honoured after overseeing the procurement of the millions of vaccine doses now being offered to the nation.

She told the BBC she was "humbled", and that she hoped her legacy would inspire more women to pursue careers in the science sector.

There is also further recognition for the success of the UK's vaccination programme.

image copyrightPA Mediaimage captionDivya Chadha Manek, from the Vaccine Taskforce, who has been appointed OBE for services to government during the Covid-19 response

A knighthood is awarded to Prof Andrew Pollard, professor of paediatric infection at the University of Oxford, for services to public health particularly during Covid-19.

Ian McCubbin, manufacturing expert on the Vaccine Taskforce Steering Committee, Vaccine Taskforce, and Mark Proctor, global supply strategy director at AstraZeneca, are appointed CBE.

Meanwhile, Divya Chadha Manek becomes an OBE for her work in the research and development of vaccines and the resulting clinical trials.

She said the honour felt like "a real nod to clinical research which may not always get the spotlight it deserves".

A wealth of honours also go to acknowledging the people who found ways to make a difference throughout the pandemic – from running free taxis for key workers to making bottles of hand sanitiser.

image copyrightPA Mediaimage captionSiblings John Brownhill and Amanda Guest, co-founders of Food4Heroes, who have both been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM)

British Empire Medals go to brother and sister John Brownhill and Amanda Guest, who were inspired to set up Food4Heroes – which delivered food from local chefs to NHS frontline staff – after watching Yorkshire nurse Dawn Bilborough's viral video reaction after facing empty shelves at the end of a long shift.

They have since delivered more than 200,000 meals to the NHS, and are now looking at setting up community cafés, with the hope that they could provide work for the unemployed.

"You see in a time of crisis the strengths of humanity I think," Mr Brownhill said.

A BEM also goes to Rhys Mallows, 25, from South Glamorgan, who repurposed his whiskey distillery to produce more than one million bottles of hand sanitiser for the NHS, key workers and the general public.

"When you see that need in a community… if you've got an ability to make a difference when very few can, I think you have to make that decision," he said.

image copyrightPA Mediaimage captionMichael Taggart has been appointed MBE for services to victims of domestic abuseimage copyrightPA Mediaimage captionHis mother, Donna Crist, was murdered by his abusive stepfather Derek Evans in 1997

Michael Taggart, strategic domestic abuse officer for North Wales Police, is appointed MBE for services to victims of domestic abuse.

He has supported victims of domestic abuse throughout his career, and his work highlighting the hidden victims of these crimes has become even more important in light of coronavirus restrictions.

During the pandemic, he organised a campaign to reach out to potential victims of abuse, involving partnership with commercial businesses such as Tesco's home delivery service, food banks and pharmacies across North Wales.

Mr Taggart, whose mother was murdered by his stepfather in 1997 when he was just 15, said it was "incredible" to see where his work had got him but that it was "somewhat bittersweet".

"Although mum is not here, she's obviously here in spirit, but I'm sure she would be very proud," he said.

Former Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Phillips said her damehood recognised "how important dance is to people", while Great British Bake Off judge Prue Leith said being honoured for doing something she loves was "just the icing on the cake".

image copyrightMark Bourdillon/Channel 4image captionPrue Leith replaced Mary Berry on The Great British Bake Off when it moved to Channel 4

Actor Jonathan Pryce, who will play the late Duke of Edinburgh in the final seasons of The Crown, said he was "proud" to receive his knighthood, adding: "That the UK continues to honour those that work in the arts, acknowledges the great contribution artists make to the way we live our lives."

His long career includes award-winning theatre roles in London and New York, and performances in Hollywood hits including Evita and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Of his MBE, Engelbert Humperdinck said the news had "really brought such a spark to light the flame once again to continue to do what I love…sing".

Notable arts namesimage copyrightGetty Images

The wider creative arts are given a spotlight in the latest honours list with writing, sculpture, poetry and pottery getting a nod.

Dame

  • Imogen Cooper. Pianist. For services to music
  • Phyllida Barlow. Artist and sculptor. For services to art

CBE

  • Rick Wakeman. Musician, presenter and author. For services to music and broadcasting
  • Margaret Busby. Publisher, editor, writer and broadcaster. For services to publishing
  • Lauren Child. Children's author and illustrator. For services to children's literature
  • Edmund de Waal. Potter and writer. For services to the arts
  • Philippa Gregory. For services to literature and charity in the UK and The Gambia
  • Ram John Holder. Actor and musician. For services to drama and music

OBE

  • David Almond. Children's author. For services to literature
  • Lolita Chakrabarti. Actress and writer. For services to drama
  • Skin. Singer, songwriter and author. For services to music
  • Julian Lloyd Webber. Cellist. For services to music
  • Alan Parsons. Studio engineer, songwriter, musician and producer. For services to music and music production
  • Lemn Sissay. Poet and playwright. For services to literature and charity

MBE

  • Alison Moyet. Singer-songwriter. For services to music
  • Dennis Bovell. Musician. For services to music
  • Allan Clayton. Opera singer. For services to opera
  • Jess Gillam. Saxophonist. For services to music

In sport, Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson is appointed MBE after he raised £4 million for the NHS from fellow Premier League footballers through the #PlayersTogether appeal.

Former England football team manager Roy Hodgson is appointed CBE, and director of rugby at Leeds Rhinos Kevin Sinfield is appointed OBE for services to Rugby League and charitable fundraising for motor neurone disease.

In politics, Conservative former minister Andrea Leadsom is made a dame. She is joined on the honours list by Oliver Lewis, a veteran of the Vote Leave campaign who is appointed CBE for political and public service.

Meg Hillier, Labour MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch in London, who chairs the Public Accounts Committee that has scrutinised public spending during the pandemic, is also made a dame, while veteran Labour MP for Rochdale, Tony Lloyd, is knighted for his public service.

Former children's commissioner for England Anne Longfield is appointed CBE.

In broadcasting, BBC Crimewatch presenter Nick Ross becomes a CBE, and radio presenter Simon Mayo, who has spent decades as a BBC radio DJ, is appointed MBE.

From the small screen, Robert Rinder- TV's Judge Rinder – becomes an MBE for services to Holocaust education and awareness, along with furniture restorer Jay Blades, best known from The Repair Show, for services to craft.

image copyrightPA Mediaimage captionAmika George has been appointed MBE for services to education, after fighting for free period products to be provided at schools so that children do not miss out on their education

The youngest recipient is 21-year-old Amika George, founder of the #FreePeriods Campaign, who becomes an MBE.

In campaigning against period poverty, she is joined on the list by friends Clegg Bamber and Anna Miles, also appointed MBE for their work on the Red Box Project which has delivered free period products in schools across the country.

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Ms George, who is from an Indian background, said she was humbled by her MBE, but had to think twice before accepting it – given its association with Britain's colonial past.

In accepting, she said, she wanted to "draw attention to our lack of education around empire and Britain's history, but also to show other young people, particularly from the Asian community, who maybe don't feel very empowered politically or don't feel seen".

Many would-be recipients have turned down honours because of their association with the empire and its history of slavery, including poet Benjamin Zephaniah, who rejected an OBE in 2003.

A campaign is calling for the government to replace "Empire" with "Excellence" in the Order of the British Empire, which covers the ranks of DBE, KBE, CBE, OBE, and MBE.

The honours system

Commonly awarded ranks:

  • Companion of Honour – Limited to 65 people. Recipients wear the initials CH after their name
  • Knight or Dame
  • CBE – Commander of the Order of the British Empire
  • OBE – Officer of the Order of the British Empire
  • MBE – Member of the Order of the British Empire
  • BEM – British Empire Medal

Guide to the Honours

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