New Year's honours 2019: Sir Elton John, Sam Mendes and Olivia Newton-John recognised by Queen

Music legend becomes ‘Companion of Honour’ – one of only 65 people granted special status at any one time

Adam Forrest
Friday 27 December 2019 23:28
New Year Honours list: Which stars have been recognised?

Sir Elton John, directors Steve McQueen and Sam Mendes, former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith and singer and actress Olivia Newton-John are among more than 1,000 people recognised in the New Year's honours list for 2020.

Given a knighthood in 1998, Sir Elton has been made a “Companion of Honour” – a special award only held by 65 people at any one time – for his achievements in music and extensive charity work.

Awarded only to those who make a “major contribution” to public life over a long period of time, others currently in the exclusive order include Sir John Major, Dame Judi Dench and JK Rowling.

Ms Newton-John, the Grease star and health campaigner who moved from the UK to Australia with her family as a five-year-old, said she was “extremely excited, honoured and grateful beyond words” to be awarded a damehood.

There is also a damehood for broadcaster and children’s campaigner Baroness Floella Benjamin, while cricket legend Clive Lloyd, Mr Duncan Smith, Mr McQueen and Mr Mendes are awarded knighthoods.

There are CBEs for DJ Annie Nightingale, Peaky Blinders’ screenwriter Steven Knight and actress Wendy Craig, and OBEs for broadcaster June Sarpong, Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody and Roger Taylor – founding member of legendary rock group Queen.

Chef Ainsley Harriott and Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain have been made MBEs, while food writer Nigel Slater gets an OBE for services to cookery and literature.

Among hundreds of members of the public honoured for their outstanding community work, a 13-year-old boy who raised thousands of pounds for charities was the youngest person to feature on this year’s list.

Ibrahim Yousaf, from Oldham, has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for his fundraising work on behalf of the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, Dr Kershaw’s Hospice and other local causes. “I truly believe the real stars and the heroes are the charities and all I ask is for everyone to please follow and support them,” said Ibrahim.​

Ibrahim Yousaf, 13, has raised thousands of pounds for local charities

A British Red Cross volunteer who supported families bereaved in the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire said she feels “overwhelmed” after being made an MBE for services to the charity. Lady Angela Lamport, 67, helped with the charity’s response to several national and international crises in addition to Grenfell since joining the organisation in 2003.

Organisers have said they will not consider honours solely on the basis of involvement in the relief effort or campaigning work in the aftermath of the Grenfell tragedy until the conclusion of the public inquiry.

The D-Day veteran Harry Billinge is honoured at MBE level for his commitment to raising funds for the British Normandy Memorial, while Holocaust survivors Mindu Hornick, 90, and John Paul Hajdu, 82, are also both honoured with MBEs for their work in education and commemoration.

Describing the award as “an absolute surprise”, Ms Hornick said: “With everything that is going on in the world today – with Islamophobia, antisemitism and other unacceptable things that are happening – I think it is important to educate young people.”

Meanwhile a 27-year-old man awarded an MBE for services to young people revealed he was moments away from being deported back to northern Cyprus as a four-year-old boy.

Mete Coban was awarded an MBE for services to young people

Mete Coban, from Hackney in northeast London, said his appearance in the honours list comes 22 years after border force officers arrived at his council estate home ready to send his family back.

The family – cab driver Ramsey, elderly care worker Aysen, and their three children – later won the right to stay. Mr Coban founded charity My Life My Say, which aims to make democracy accessible for young people.

He said: “My parents always instilled into us to give something back to our community, so for one of their children to receive an MBE for the work he has done with his community – that will be huge.”

Some well-known civil society figures have also been given top honours, including damehoods for Gillian Guy, the chief executive of Citizen’s Advice, and Julia Unwin, the former chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. There is also a CBE for Polly Neate, chief executive of housing charity Shelter.

In politics, Tory MP Bob Neill receives a knighthood along with his party’s controversial former leader, while Labour MP Diane Johnson – who worked on the campaign for a public inquiry into the contaminated blood scandal – receives a damehood.

Meanwhile in sport, several members of the England cricket team and coaching staff have been recognised in the honours list following their ICC World Cup triumph. One-day captain Eoin Morgan has been given a CBE, while hero Ben Stokes and team coach Trevor Bayliss are made OBEs.

Sue Campbell, director of women’s football at the FA, has been given a damehood and England midfielder Jill Scott is made an MBE. The sports broadcaster Gabby Logan also receives a MBE, while taekwondo world champion Jade Jones receives an OBE.

More than half – 51 per cent – of the recipients on this year’s list are women, a slight increase on the 47 per cent in last year’s list. Some 11 per cent of recipients consider themselves to have a disability: the highest proportion for this category since numbers on disability started to be reported in 2016.

Yet only 9.1 per cent of recipients come from a Bame (black, Asian and minority ethnic) background, down from 12 per cent compared to last year, and 3.3 per cent of recipients identified as being LGBT+, down from 5 per cent in the 2019 list.

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