New Year Honours: Recognised at last - the unsung heroes

Arrowsmith, hedgehog sanctuary owner and mother and daughter join the awards lists

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Britain’s leading arrowsmith, the owner of a hedgehog sanctuary and a mother and daughter are among those from the more unsung walks of life to be named in the new year honours list.

Hector Cole, 75, who made his first piece of ironwork at the age of four, is recognised as a world authority on the forging of arrows and blades using medieval techniques with his work featuring in locations from museums to the entrance gates to Prince Charles’s Highgrove House.

Mr Cole, from Little Somerford, Wiltshire, who is made an MBE, said: “It came as a complete surprise to me, completely out of the blue. At the moment, blacksmithing is one of the heritage crafts that is ascending and British blacksmiths are regarded as the best throughout the world.”

Barbara Roberts, 63, who has run the Withington Hedgehog Hospital in Manchester for 30 years, is one of two conservationists honoured who warned that the animals they help are being harm by the loss of their habitats.


Mrs Roberts, who receives a British Empire Medal and largely funds her operation caring for up to 2,000 hedgehogs a year from her pension, said: “We are poisoning them. Because we’re taking their habitats, we are taking the greenfield, the hedgehogs come further in and they get squashed on the roads.”

Jenny Clark, 70, who runs the Sussex Bat Hospital and is made an MBE, said modern farming methods, tree felling and the drainage of ponds was contributing to declining numbers.

In a rare coincidence, the honours list includes simultaneous awards for two members of the same family. Mairi O’Keefe, a former airport manager who runs a home for the disabled in North Lothian, is made an MBE while her mother, Catriona MacKinnon, is given a British Empire Medal for services to the Gaelic language and culture.

* Full 2015 Honours List at