From Dracula to Delia: The Queen’s Birthday Honours

Veteran horror actor Christopher Lee and chef Delia Smith took their place among hundreds of other notables being rewarded with knighthoods, MBEs and other honours.
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'Delia effect' extends to the Palace

Round up

Delia Smith, the celebrity chef famed for teaching the nation how to do everything from boiling an egg to preparing a paella, has been appointed a CBE in this year's Queen's Birthday Honour list, announced today.

She said the award was a "very, very great honour", adding that cooking in Britain had changed dramatically since she started her career. "You can now go into a supermarket and shop around the world, and when I first started unusual ingredients were hard to get," she said. "When I first started my cookery column, olive oil was something you could only get in the chemist. Now, it's wall-to-wall!"

The 67-year-old, who already has an OBE, began her quest to improve Britain's culinary skills as a newspaper cookery writer in 1969, hosting her first television series, Family Fare, four years later. Her popularity grew to such an extent that the "Delia effect" saw ingredients and products sell out after featuring on her programmes.

David Blanchflower, the former Bank of England economist whose warnings over a future recession went unheeded, has been appointed a CBE. Mr Blanchflower, who has dual UK-US citizenship, was the first non-UK resident to serve on the banks' Monetary Policy Committee. He said that the honour was not necessarily a vindication of his calls to cut interest rates earlier than his colleagues desired, but said it was "a nice return for all the work I have done".

An MBE was awarded to Frances Lawrence, the widow of head teacher, Philip Lawrence, who was murdered after trying to stop a pupil being attacked by a gang. The honour came in recognition of her work to "recognise the outstanding contributions of young people" through the Philip Lawrence Awards set up in honour of her husband. She told The Independent that she felt "like a fraud" for receiving the honour. "It is the young people involved who are the ones out there working in the community, many of whom have very fragile lives," she said.

There was also a CBE for the outgoing information commissioner, Richard Thomas. He was appointed for his "vital contribution to the promotion of information rights".

No politicians were given honours in this year's list, suggesting that the recent scandal over the abuse of expenses had made giving any MPs an honour unacceptable to the public. Two sitting MPs were given knighthoods in last year's list: Alan Beith, the Liberal Democrats' longest-serving MP, and Tory MP Peter Viggers. He has announced he will step down at the next election after trying to claim for a £1,645 house for his ducks on expenses.

Inspirational school saviour knighted

Unsung heroes

Paul Grant, the inspirational head teacher of Robert Clack School of Science, in Barking and Dagenham, Essex, was the surprising recipient of a knighthood for services to local and national education.

He was appointed in 1997 in a last-gasp effort to rescue the school, which was failing and heading for closure. When he started the job, the school had a high truancy rate and disastrous exam results, with just 16 per cent of pupils achieving five GCSEs at grades A* to C.

But in February this year the school was named by Ofsted as one of 12 former "sink" schools that had been turned around against the odds. Now, 82 per cent of pupils receive five A* to C grades at GCSE, and its A-level students are starting to win places at Oxford and Cambridge.

Fishing writer and broadcaster John Wilson was appointed an MBE for services to angling. Wilson has travelled the world filming programmes for Channel 4 and the Discovery Channel, and is the author of 1001 Top Angling Tips. Wilson has previously been voted Britain's top angler (by readers of Angling Times).

In broadcasting, Kay Mellor, the writer of a succession of TV programmes including Band Of Gold, Fat Friends, Playing The Field and Between The Sheets was appointed an OBE for services to drama, while Dotun Adebayo, the presenter of Up All Night on BBC Radio 5 Live, was appointed an MBE for services to the arts.

The 48-year-old was born in Nigeria but moved to the UK at the age of five. He joined the National Youth Theatre as a boy and later became a writer. He joined the BBC in 2000, and presents the obituary programme Brief Lives in addition to his late-night slot.

Alastair Lansley, the architect behind the recent renovation of London's St Pancras station, was appointed a CBE for services to public transport architecture. Lansley was also involved in the £110m reshaping of Liverpool Street station in the 1980s.

Esme Maxwell, a 60-year-old airport worker from Northern Ireland, was appointed an MBE for services to the aviation industry. Mrs Maxwell has worked on the information desk at Belfast International Airport since 1987, and once carried out life-saving first aid on a baby who had been taken ill. She said: "I am delighted. I work with a great team of people and I could only accept this as a member of that team. They are great people. We have a wonderful job. You get to be a good humanitarian and, sure, isn't that what life's about?"

Net-a-Porter founder gets a new label


Three heavyweights of the fashion and beauty industries were also honoured. Designer and TV presenter Jeff Banks was appointed a CBE, while Natalie Massenet, who founded the internet clothes retailer Net-a-Porter, was appointed an MBE. Vidal Sassoon was appointed a CBE for services to the British hairdressing industry. In his long career Sassoon styled royalty, models and film stars, and is credited with creating both the bob. The 81-year-old famously flew to America in 1968 at the request of film star Mia Farrow, who wanted her hair styled for the film Rosemary's Baby. It cost her $5,000. Banks established himself in 1964 with his Clobber brand, and five years later his eponymous label was among the first British ranges to exhibit in Paris. The 66-year-old, from Ebbw Vale in South Wales, said: "I thought I'd been naughty in a past life and that my turn would never come."

Ms Massenet, 44, was working as a fashion journalist when in 2000 she set up Net-a-Porter, which is now a multimillion pound business.

There was also recognition, in the form of an MBE for services to hairdressing, for John Paul Wood, 55, who runs Claritys in Manchester. Wood has been a hairdresser for 40 years but began his career looking after George Best's hair. "George was like a big brother to me," he said.

A bittersweet moment for former laureate

Andrew Motion, the former poet laureate, spoke of the "incredible honour" at receiving a knighthood for services to literature but said it had an "elegiac quality" because his parents were not alive to share his joy.

Motion, 56, who held the position for a decade, said he wished his parents were alive to witness the moment. He told The Independent: "I feel incredibly honoured and absolutely thrilled. At the same time, the curious thing is that I wish my parents were alive. They would have been incredibly pleased, probably more pleased than I am, especially my father. The whole thing is wonderfully delightful but it makes me think of my dear, departed ones."

He added that it was a triumph for poetry rather than him alone. "I hope people will, like me, feel it's an achievement for poetry in general. I have noticed writers in general, and poets in particular, get fewer such honours than actors."

Motion was appointed Poet Laureate in May 1999, following the death of Ted Hughes. Breaking with the tradition of retaining the post for life, Motion stipulated that he would hold the post for only a decade.

In recent years, Motion remarked that the appointment had been "very, very damaging to work", referring to his writer's block, but also said "more often it has been remarkably fulfilling."

He was not the only poet to be recognised: Christopher Ricks, the eminent literary scholar who is to step down as Oxford University

Professor of Poetry this year, was also knighted.

Professor Ricks, 75, is recognised as one of the greatest living critics of English literature. His books range from an acclaimed scholarly edition of Tennyson's poetry to an examination of Bob Dylan's lyrics.

The poet W.H. Auden once described Ricks as "the kind of critic every poet dreams of finding", and Motion said it was a privilege to feature on the honours list alongside him.

Meanwhile, Sue Johnston, who spent eight years on the television soap Brookside before playing the long-suffering Barbara Royle in the BBC sitcom The Royle Family, said she was "delighted and honoured" to be appointed an OBE for services to drama and charity. Echoing Motion's sentiments, the 65-year-old said: "I am delighted and feel very honoured. I am only sorry that my parents are not here as they would have been so proud."

Johnston was born in Warrington and started her working life in a factory. She has since become one of the country's most recognisable actresses. In 2000, she was named best comedy actress at the British Comedy Awards for her role in The Royle Family.

Christopher Lee, best known for his parts in some of cinema's most memorable horror films, also received a knighthood for services to drama and charity. One of the world's most prolific actors, he has appeared in more than 250 film and television productions. Lee, 87, launched his career with the "Hammer Horror" film series, in which he first appeared as the monster in The Curse of Frankenstein. Famous parts in Dracula and The Hound of the Baskervilles followed. Lee has latterly been celebrated for his part in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, where he was cast as the evil wizard Saruman.

The Scottish-born actor, Alan Cumming, 44, was also appointed an OBE in the Diplomatic List for services to film, theatre and the arts and for his work as a gay rights campaigner. His wide-ranging career includes blockbuster movies such as X Men United and the Spy Kids trilogy, as well as TV appearances in Sex And The City and Frasier.

The actress Anna Wing, who played EastEnders' Lou Beale, said she was "overwhelmed" to be appointed an MBE for services to drama and charity. The 94-year-old actress became a household name by playing the role from the soap's start in 1985 until 1988.

Peter Howson, an artist who famously depicted the singer Madonna in the nude, said he felt "very proud" of his OBE for services to the visual arts. He revealed the letter informing him of the honour originally went to the wrong address. "It took a while to reach me," he said. "I'm very proud and didn't expect it at all. I always thought I'd react coolly to something like this, but I didn't, I'm actually pretty excited."

Arise, Sir Nick – Faldo joins the elite club


Nick Faldo, who earned a knighthood for his services to golf, is often regarded as the UK's most successful golfer and was perhaps the most famous sporting name to receive an accolade. Faldo, 51, has won six major golf championships to date in a career spanning more than three decades. In 1977, at the age of 20, he became the youngest player to qualify for the Ryder Cup. He went on to win three Opens and three Masters, spending 92 weeks as the world's number one golfer.

Cricket was also well represented, with former England cricketer Graeme Hick and Charlotte Edwards, the captain of the England women's cricket team that won the World Cup in Australia earlier this year, both being appointed MBEs for services to sport. Hick, 43, became the most prolific run-scorer in all cricket in 2008 after racking up more than 41,000 first-class runs. Edwards, 29, became the youngest woman to have played for England when she made her debut against New Zealand at the age of 16. In 1997 she hit 12 centuries, and despite a period of injury, she became captain in 2006 and led the national side to a famous World Cup victory. Another MBE, for services to badminton, went to Gail Emms, who alongside Nathan Robertson formed a successful mixed doubles partnership. The pair won a silver medal for Britain at the 2004 Olympics in Athens and gold at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne in 2006.

Finally, a CBE for services to sport and charity went to the former England rugby player and sports commentator Alastair Hignell, who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999 and has since campaigned to raise money for research into the disease. Hignell, 53, said he was “gobsmacked” at being appointed CBE for services to sport and charity.

Terry Grote, the former managing director of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday, was appointed an OBE for services to publishing. Mr Grote, 60, held the post for almost a decade before retiring in May 2008. He began as a sports reporter in the regional press and remained in newspapers for 30 years. Alongside Sir Ray Tindle, he built up the London regional group Capital Newspapers, later acquired by Independent News & Media.