The honouring by the Government and the Queen for a significant number of people is very important as we begin a year that we can all hope will be much better than this year has been for COVID-19 and the torturous process of getting to a Deal for our departure from the EU. Sadly for many of us the prospect of leaving the EU is going to be very painful and sadly most of the political people who campaigned for us to leave the EU have so far failed to acknowledge the negative impact that their success will have on this nation. It is always fascinating to read the list of names and try to find out what some of the people have done based on very few words that are published. One of my regular reflections is on the people who have turned down the honours for a wide range of reasons. A friend of mine is the daughter of a man who when he was alive had worked very hard to build up his farm and produce many pigs. He had been offered an Honour many years ago and refused it because of the political implications. Occasionally we read of people who have refused to accept an Honour such as Stephen Hawking who died 2 years ago and in the 1990’s refused an knighthood because the Government was not spending enough money on science. Peter Tatchell refused an OBE because
“the honors system is a relic of feudalism. Most of the major gongs are handed out to well-paid time servers, political cronies and big party donors.”
Howard Gayle turned down an MBE in 2016 stating
“Ancestors would be turning in their graves after how Empire and Colonialism had enslaved them. This is a decision that I have had to make and there will be others who may feel different and would enjoy the attraction of being a Member of the British Empire and those 3 letters after their name, but I feel that it would be a betrayal to all of the Africans who have lost their lives, or who have suffered as a result of [the] Empire.”
However there are a number of people each year who either as people who I have met or because of the roles they are referred to deserve to be applauded for the Honours that they receive. Sadly some of the most significant people get modest awards but each one is worth being recognised in an equal way.
This year a lady called Sarah Jane Hampton received an honour for her voluntary work in one of the Hastings Foodbanks and it would be fantastic if all people in those roles across our nation were handed an honour. I don’t know Sarah Hampton but I am delighted that she is being honoured for her work.
Another person who I don’t know is the The Education and Skills Funding Agency’s long-standing champion of apprenticeships, Carolyn Savage who has been honoured for services to apprenticeships and skills. She is based in Northampton.
One of the few people I have met is Joanne Monck who I do know having met her previously because we work in a similar role in the Sussex Police advisory network. Joanne has been honoured for her Transgender Equality work.
There is a theme amongst Architecture in this years New Years Honours. There are a couple of people who co-founded a practice called 6a Architects which is based in London and they have both been honoured, Stephanie MacDonald and Thomas Emerson who both received and OBE. However the other Architect is Sir David Chipperfield who has been granted the Order of the Companion which was presumably a replacement for the role of Terence Conran who died in September.
There is a well known Dance specialist called Bob Lockyer who is 78 and who lives in Lewes
A lady called Barbara Collins who a couple of people I know, know her and she is based in Kent and has the role of Head of Women’s Business Council at the Government Equalities Office. This seems like a very significant recognition.
Another person is Louise Beaton who is based in Chichester and is a Trustee of a national charity called Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE). I don’t know Louise but had the pleasure to work alongside the Sussex based ACRE charity over many years.
In many senses the most significant person who has been honoured this year is a lady called Cordella Bart-Stewart who according to this website is an immigration and family law specialist. Cordella founded Stewart & Co Solicitors & Privy Council Agents in 1990 as a general legal practice in North London. She has a strong interest in equality and human rights issues and has specialised in family and immigration law for over 25 years. She has been a pioneering champion for social justice working across many different sectors including as an independent Governor of Staffordshire University, which awarded her an Honorary Doctorate. She is also the current Chair of the Education Committee. She has been a fee paid Immigration Judge since 2000. Her photo is above.
There are two other people who I would want to acknowledge. One is Lynne Owens who I know because of her previous role at Surrey Police as the Chief Constable and she is now the Director General of the National Crime Agency. I am delighted she has received one of the most senior awards on this occasion.
The final person is someone I have never met or come across before today. John Angeli is based in Haywards Heath and he works in the same industry as I do. He is the Director of Parliamentary Audio/Video at the UK Parliament and was awarded for his services to Parliament. It is vital that people like John are recognised and indeed as we focus on making Parliament able to be accessible for MPs and Lords who are unable to attend due to conditions and restrictions such as COVID-19. When Jacob Rees-Mogg gets moved on we need him to be replaced by people who understand how important it is for our representatives to be able to work in Parliament and in their constituencies without the nonsense of having to travel into London in order to vote for laws late at night, just because that is what was required in 1340 when the audio video technology did not exist and when society was very different to how it is today.