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Leading article: In praise of local heroes

The cynic might find the proportion of women receiving honours today, at 45 per cent, a little too precisely calibrated to be entirely spontaneous. An even more cynical observer might set the growing number of local honours against a list of marginal constituencies.

But the start of a brave New Year is no time for such miserableness. Let us applaud instead that the Honours List is finally moving out of the era of establishment self-congratulation and is instead embracing the people who really do make a difference – the local heroes who devote themselves to charity and their communities.

Particularly welcome is the damehood for Claire Bertschinger, who has done so much to give aid and succour around the world, Susan Banton, who gains an MBE for her charity work for those with limb disorders, and Sister Lynda Dearlove, who helps trafficked women.

They, and so many others, do good in the particular, which is indeed something to be honoured.