Britain's Olympic and Paralympic champions dominate the New Year's Honours List, taking 55 awards, among them a knighthood for the triple gold medal-winning cyclist, Chris Hoy, and an OBE for the double-gold swimmer, Rebecca Adlington.
Sir Chris, who holds 27 world, Olympic and Commonwealth medals and became the BBC Sports Personality of the Year this month, heads a list which also includes his mother Carol, who receives an MBE for her work on sleep-related illnesses. It is the first time that a mother and son have been honoured in the same list.
The cyclist said: "To become a knight from riding your bike, it's mad. But it is, genuinely, just an amazing honour. It's also great for the sport."
The move breaks with tradition, in that Hoy has been knighted while he is still competing. He is therefore likely to take part in the London 2012 games as Sir Chris Hoy. His late grandmother, Isa Reid, received an MBE in 1989 for her work as chairman of the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Adlington, 19, the first British woman to win an Olympic swimming gold for 48 years, expressed her joy: "I'm absolutely delighted to receive and accept the OBE – it is fantastic to be recognised in the New Year's Honours List. There are so many amazing names on the list, it's something I'll treasure for the rest of my life."
While all Olympic gold medallists were honoured, it took two or more golds to guarantee awards for Paralympians. Among them is Eleanor Simmonds, the 14-year-old double gold medallist in swimming. She becomes an MBE, the first under-18 to receive an honour and the youngest person to be given an award since the 19-year-old charity fundraiser Michelle Lewis in 2002.
There were CBEs for the sailor Ben Ainslie and the track cyclist Bradley Wiggins. Philip Lane, the chief executive of Britain's Paralympic team becomes an OBE.
Meanwhile, in a list dominated by sporting success, an MBE is the reward for the Formula One world champion, Lewis Hamilton, who captured the title in only his second season.
In the arts, the bestselling Discworld author Terry Pratchett becomes a knight, and the Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant and jazz saxophonist Courtney Pine are made CBEs.
Michael Sheen, who played Tony Blair in the film The Queen, is made an MBE, as is the 87-year old actress Liz Smith, known for her appearances as Nana in The Royle Family.
Sara Payne, whose daughter Sarah was murdered in 2000, becomes an MBE for her campaign to tighten the law on child protection. Lyn Costello and Dee Edwards, who set up the campaign group Mothers Against Murder and Aggression after the murder of the toddler James Bulger, were also elevated to MBEs.
There are honours for six heroes of the July 7 terrorist attacks on London and the Queen's Police Medal for Distinguished Service for Chief Constable Craig Mackey, of Cumbria Constabulary. He led the operation that resulted in the arrest of the shoe bomber Saajid Badat, who admitted plotting to blow up a passenger jet in mid-air.
The 966 honours on the New Year's list also include knighthoods for John Madejski, the philanthropist, Reading Football club chairman and former Conservative donor, for his charitable work. And a CBE goes to Peter Jones, the entrepreneur known for his appearances on Dragons' Den. Mr Jones said: "I have been an entrepreneur for over 25 years now and been lucky enough to receive various awards, but nothing compares to being honoured in the New Year's Honours List with a CBE."
Indarjit Singh, the director of the Network of Sikh Organisations and a familiar voice on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme's Thought for the Day slot, is made a CBE.
Nicholas Partridge, chief executive of the Terence Higgins Trust, the Aids charity, and Mark Walport, director of the Wellcome Trust, are both created knights.
Anne Owers, the chief inspector of prisons and an outspoken critic of jail conditions, is made a Dame, as is Jenny Abramsky, the former director of BBC audio and music.
The Cabinet Office said that more than 70 per cent of honours went to local heroes, while many also went to people for their voluntary work.
One in 10 honours go to people in the world of education, with knighthoods for Professor Tim Brighouse, the eminent researcher and specialist on school improvement, and Robert Edwards, the head teacher at Garforth Community college in Leeds. He heads a list of 11 head teachers recommended for honours.
Health workers make up 8 per cent of the list, while figures from industry and economy make up 14 per cent, including a CBE for Robert Holden, the chief executive of London and Continental Railways, which delivered the Channel tunnel rail link.