Unsung heroes: 'People's gong' to circus ringmaster

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The Independent Online

A watchmaker, a nun and a Scottish sheep farmer are among almost 1,000 ordinary people to be recognised with a gong in the New Year Honours List, which also includes the first-ever circus ringmaster.

Almost three quarters of the 979 people handed an honour were classed as "local heroes", recognised for carrying out "outstanding work in their communities". Awards went to 19 head teachers, 13 school and college principals, six nurses and five GPs.

Ian Millar, a sheep and arable farmer in Perthshire, Scotland, has been awarded an MBE in recognition of his work "for the benefit of the livestock industry as a whole". Mr Millar has been pivotal in working on local livestock health schemes.

Ringmaster Norman Barrett awarded with an MBE in recognition of his "services to entertainment". Mr Barrett, from Blackpool, left school at the age of 12 to join a circus run by his parents. Now 74, and established as one of the world's greatest ringmasters, he still tours with Zippos Circus.

There was a knighthood for Erich Reich, a Jewish refugee who fled to Britain from the Nazis and went on to raise millions for charity. Sir Erich's Classic Tours company, which organises fundraising activities, has enabled 42,000 people to raise around £60m for good causes.

Sister Lynda Dearlove was awarded an MBE for her work in helping women who have been exploited through prostitution and human trafficking. George Daniels, a master watchmaker from the Isle of Man, was awarded a CBE. A citation noted he had a "monumental influence on world horology".

An MBE also went to British national aerobatic champion, Alan Cassidy. The stunt pilot, from Maidenhead, Berkshire, was given the award "for services to aerobatics and to charity".