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A bumper crop of West Midlanders rank among those recognised on the 2017 New Year's Honours list, including Warwickshire Olympic Show Jumper Nick Skelton, Staffordshire Paralympian Lee Pearson, Birmingham theatre and comedy performer Janice Connolly, Bhangra star Gurcharan Mall, poet Fiona Sampson and West Midlands MEP Neena Gill.
Best known for her character Mrs Barbara Nice and her work with Women and Theatre, Connolly received a BEM for her services to community arts, a well-deserved honour to round off an exceptional year, which also saw her take home our very own Reader's Award for Best Midlands Comedian. Also in Birmingham, Professor Susan Hunston of the University of Birmingham's English Language department received an OBE for her work on Applied Linguistics while Susan Bennett, Head of St Thomas Centre Nursery School, also received the honour for her services to education. MBEs were given to England Women's Football and Chelsea Ladies Team Winger Julia Carney, to West Midlands Chambers of Commerce Director Allen Matty, to Councillor and Leigh Primary School Governor Mohammed Aikhlaq, and to Marcia Shakespeare for her voluntary services in helping to tackle gang, gun and knife crime in the area. Eric Carter and Bernard Gingold joined Connolly in receiving BEMs for their services to their communities.
Nearby, in Sutton Coldfield, Bhangra legend Gurcharan Mall received a BEM for his services to British Asian music and performing arts, and in Solihull, CBSO Chief Executive Stephen Maddock and Solihull Borough Council Leader Robert Sleigh both received OBEs, while Peter Adams and Sfhere's Shezad Nawab received MBEs for work in the community and services to business and diversity, respectively. BEMs were awarded to Joyce Rothschild for her charity work to help fund cancer care, to playwright and performer Malcolm Stent and to Andrew John Yates for services to sailing.
In Warwickshire, Olympic Gold Medallist Nick Skelton was given a CBE, while Keith Thompson of the Department for International Development received an OBE for services to humanitarian relief. Save the Children Volunteer Marilyn Payne and Jaguar Land Rover's Head of Community Relations Leslie Ratcliffe were both awarded MBEs, and BEMs were awarded to Nuneaton's Qurratul Annie Zaidi for her services to Football Coaching, Mary Hart for her work with young people across Coventry and Warwickshire, and to John Lee Anderson, Marion Austin, Jillian Baker, Margaret Kite, Sheila Onions, Jean Singleton, Geoffrey Thorpe and Paul Winchester for community and charity services.
Coventry's Local Government Ombudsman and Chair Dr Jane Elizabeth Martin received a CBE for services to administrative justice and transparency in local government, while football referee Sian Massey-Ellis received an MBE, and Ivor Wood was given a BEM for his work providing guide dogs for the blind.
In Staffordshire, Cheddleton-born Lee Pearson received a knighthood for his services to equestrianism, while an OBE was given to Tamworth's former ARK Boulton Academy Executive Principal David Ralph Gould for his services to education. Uttoxeter swimmer Adam Peaty received an MBE, and BEMs were given to Victim Support Volunteer Peter Cave, former Keele University Technician David Emley, Denise De Wet for her services to dance and work in the voluntary sector, and Margaret Heath and Mary Tiso for their services to their communities in Newcastle under Lyme and Harlaston, respectively.
In the Black Country, an OBE was awarded to Bromsgrove resident and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust's Director of Nursing and Clinical Standards Rosalind Alstead. Geological Conservationist Alan Culter, Cyclist Helen Scott, Rower Lauren Rowles and Association for Physical Education Chief Executive Officer Susan Wilkinson all received MBEs, as did Camilla Phillips, for her work for the community and The Hope Centre in Halesowen, and Karen Ross, for her work on reducing knife crime among young people in Walsall. BEMs were given to SWEDA Chief Executive Officer and Sandwell Consortium Chair Davinder Kaur for services to women's enterprise and the community, to Siraaj-Ul-Haq Nadat for his services to people with disabilities as Senior Quality of Life Facilitator for Changing our Lives, and to Pamela Preston for voluntary services to mental health with Samaritans.
Market Drayton's Michael Foy, Regional Head of the Education Funding Agency's Free Schools Capital Division, received Shropshire's highest honour, awarded an OBE for his services to education. Other Shropshire honours included MBEs for Telford Gurdwara President Parkash Singh Dhami, Ministry of Defence Higher Executive Officer Elaine Spalding, British Gymnastics Head Coach and Men's Technical Director Edmund Van Hoof, and Archer John Walker, as well as for Michael Roughan, Chairman of the Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin and Leicestershire and Rutland Adoption Panels for his services to children and the community, and for Thomas Kelly for his services to charity. Sheila Bruce received a BEM for her services to the community in Kinnerly.
In Herefordshire, MBEs were awarded to Glyn Morgan for his work at Hereford Cathedral, to Education Consultant Mary Quinn and to Poet and former Poetry Review Editor Fiona Sampson. Eva Thomas received a BEM for services to the community in Little Hereford.
Finally in Worcestershire, Asset Performance Environment Agency Manager Jacqueline Banks received an MBE for her services to communities and flood risk management, along with Dudley Clinical Commissioning Group and West Midlands Clinical Senate Chair David Hegarty for his services to primary care. Diane Bennett and Charles Talbot also received MBEs for their services to young people and the community. BEMs were awarded to Milestone Society Founder Janet Scrine and to Miriam Harvey for their work in heritage and tourism, and to Colin Bell for his services to charitable fundraising.