The great and the good from the region receive Honours from the Queen

A frontline senior doctor, a nurse who came out of retirement to lead a team through the coronavirus pandemic and volunteers who have supported the NHS and families with food and personal protective equipment (PPE) donations.

Gaynor Evans, from Wolverhampton
Gaynor Evans, from Wolverhampton

These are some of the coronavirus heroes from across the Black Country and Staffordshire – and they have now been recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours list 2020.

The publication of the list, which was agreed before the Covid-19 pandemic took hold in the country, was postponed in June, so that individuals who played crucial roles in the first months of the global outbreak could be added.

This year's Queens Birthday Honours list also includes snooker champions, a disability rights campaigner and an influential member of the music industry from the Black Country and Staffordshire.

Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospital NHS Trust's deputy medical director and clinical lead acute medicine, Dr Sarbjit Clare, has been awarded an MBE for her services to the NHS.

Dr Clare, who is originally from Walsall but now lives in Birmingham, has worked as a frontline senior doctor at the trust – which has seen high admissions and mortality – throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

During the crisis, she cared for more than 700 patients and single-handedly ran her department of eight people when all her colleagues were off sick.

Dr Sarbjit Clare

Dr Clare, also known as Sarb, who is originally from Pleck in Walsall, as a frontline senior doctor has displayed leadership throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

Clinically and operationally, her decisions and insight was critical for patient and staff safety. She cared for more than 700 patients and single-handedly ran her department of eight people when all her colleagues were off sick.

She shared her experiences locally, and nationally, via educational videos and online meetings.

She also wrote and led the delivery of the Covid-19 training plan to 817 people to ensure safe redeployment of staff members – and she wrote discharge pathways, clinical guidance and a 15-page patient discharge pack providing patient advice to aid Covid-19 recovery.

The 44-year-old, who now lives in Birmingham, said: "I am delighted and honoured to receive a Queens Honour MBE award. As an acute medical consultant working at SWBH NHS Trust I am incredibly proud of the care we provide our patients, even more poignant this year during the pandemic.

"It is a privilege for me to serve our local community and incredibly humbling to be acknowledged for the work we do."

Molly Henriques-Dillon, from Penkridge, has received a British Empire Medal (BEM) for her services to nursing during the pandemic.

Molly Henriques-Dillon

She came out of retirement to lead a quality nurse team for the Black Country and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG).

The grandmother-of-five said she didn't expected to get recognised "for doing my day job" – after she was awarded a BEM for her work in nursing during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 62-year-old has helped oversee arrangements at 60 care homes across Wolverhampton.

Now back to working full time in the sector, she was pivotal in the development of the Black Country and West Birmingham CCG Care Home app, which allowed nurses to access instant training, support and resources during the coronavirus crisis.

She developed the operational arrangements for local proactive care home testing of thousands of care home residents and supported local place teams to provide responsive and comprehensive support to homes in crisis and during a crisis.

She said: "I came out of retirement just before the pandemic broke, as they needed support. But then when it hit, I increased my hours.

"I didn't really think twice. I just did it. Nursing is a vocation, it's not a job.

"When there was a need for support I just got on and did it, without thinking about it.

"I feel quite humbled. I don't expect to get recognised for doing my day job. I was surprised and delighted. I wasn't doing anything more than expected of me as a nurse."

Gaynor Evans has been awarded an OBE for her services to infection prevention. Ms Evans, from Wolverhampton, was also due to retire from the NHS – but did not hesitate to return to support the national infection, prevention and control (IPC) response to Covid-19.

Gaynor Evans, from Wolverhampton

The 59-year-old has specialised in infection, prevention and control (IPC) nursing since 1997 in local and national roles, and most recently as clinical lead for IPC for NHS England and Improvement.

Ms Evans retired on March 31, but on April 2 she returned to work to support the national IPC response to Covid-19. She has taken a lead role in the NHS England and Improvement's IPC cell, supporting colleagues during the Covid-19 crisis by offering her expert advice and guidance.

The unknown nature of the virus initially and the changes in approach as information and data became available meant that IPC expertise was crucial to ensure guidance and best practice was identified and shared.

She said: "I just felt it was right to get back to work and support the NHS and IPC when they needed it most – I didn't think twice about doing it. I have never seen anything like Covid-19 before. We have had virus outbreaks and we planned for things like SARS, but nothing like this ever.

"I was absolutely overwhelmed when I found out I was to receive an OBE, I get tearful just talking about it. I didn't think it was for me at first, I had to read it three times. I was absolutely over the moon."

Blind Dave Heeley, from West Bromwich, was "over the moon" to receive an OBE for his charitable fundraising.

Blind Dave Heeley with his daughters Georgie-Lee and Dannie

The 62-year-old charity champion is the first blind person to complete the seven-marathon challenge in 2008 – and has raised £3m for various charities by taking part in various activities across an entire decade.

He said: "I really am lost for words. I feel so privileged. To get a thank you from Queen and country, that's just the bees knees, you can't get any higher.

"I've been quite emotional about it all, it's really brilliant."

He added: "When I first got the email I thought someone was taking the mick. I was far from expecting it. I just carry on and crack on. I've had so much support over the years, there's been so many people and I just want to grab them all and give them a big hug and say thank you.

"This isn't Blind Dave OBE but Team Blind Dave OBE."

Carol Shanahan

Carol Shanahan, from Staffordshire, has been awarded an OBE after her work with the charity she founded, the Hubb Foundation, was deemed lifesaving for families faced with the choice of feeding their children or paying rent in the early days of the crisis.

Since 2017, Ms Shanahan, 62, who was brought up in West Bromwich, has made a significant difference to the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable families through the charity she founded.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, her work has been lifesaving for families faced with the choice of feeding their children or paying rent.

Her response was immediate including repurposing the kitchens at Port Vale Football Club, which she owns, to increase meal production.

And, on hearing that families could not afford personal hygiene and cleaning products, she made sure that those families received supplies with their next food delivery.

She said: "I'm overwhelmed. You just get on and do things, you don't do anything to get awards, you just do it.

"But then you suddenly realise that you've been recognised and you stop and reflect on yourself and what you've been doing and you think 'wow, that is quite a lot'.

"But at the time you just get on with it. Particularly during Covid we've had to ramp up the work we've been doing."

Beverley Morris, a community and home health care (CHC) lead nurse at the Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group, has been awarded a BEM.

She supported the delivery of proactive community swabbing to more than 1,000 care home residents, responded to care homes in crisis and delivered through her team 100 per cent achievement of the infection and prevention care home education support.

Beverley Morris

The 59-year-old, who lives in Birmingham, works across many independent care home providers and with local statutory services. During the pandemic, Beverley has shown fantastic leadership for the vulnerable communities she supports.

She has, despite her high risk status, demonstrated a tenacious and can do approach to delivering care across communities.

Ms Morris has supported the delivery of proactive community swabbing to more than 1,000 care home residents, responded to care homes in crisis and delivered through her team 100 per cent achievement of the infection and prevention care home education support.

She has overseen and managed safe care in care homes, supporting care through the delivery of regular contact, PPE, education and equipment – and ensuring care homes are equipped and able to deliver the best care possible to residents during Covid-19.

She said: "I am honoured to have been nominated and feel very privileged to receive this British Empire Medal. It feels very surreal – I was doing my job like so many other amazing people in NHS during these unprecedented times.

"I accept this medal on behalf of my manager and an absolutely amazing team, without them our achievements would not have been possible."

Harmohinder Singh Bhatia

Harmohinder Singh Bhatia said it was an honour to "share with all the community" – after he was awarded an MBE services to race relations in the West Midlands.

The 75-year-old moved to the UK from India in 1965 and was struck by the level of racism he and others had to deal with while living in Smethwick.

He became a leader in the community and was instrumental in bringing greater understanding between community and institutions in Sandwell to improve equal opportunities, promote good relations and challenge unlawful discrimination.

His work during the Covid-19 pandemic has included supplying meals, fresh fruit and essential items to frontline NHS staff at three Sandwell hospitals for three and a half months, and he also donated a lorry load of sanitisers to the value of around £25,000.

Mr Bhatia said: "This honour is something I share with all the community as they have always been with me and have always supported my work.

“I have worked over the years to bring communities closer together and help them to try and understand each other. I have always wanted to create harmony and through peaceful marches and demonstrations, we managed to create that.”

An MBE has been awarded to Oliver Chambers, for his vital work with the Birmingham Vernon Sea Cadets during the pandemic.

Oliver Chambers

The 38-year-old, from Amblecote, has been a trustee and uniformed volunteer with the cadets for 18 years and has been a driving force in the development and delivery of a range of virtual activities to keep the unit cadets and adults engaged and involved during lockdown.

His volunteering led to him also becoming a vital part in helping charities support communities and people in need during Covid-19. In three months, he has volunteered almost 500 hours to the North Smethwick Development Trust (NSDT), helping deliver food to the community.

Before Covid-19 he also ran a successful hotel in Greece, which had to temporarily close. Mr Chambers said: "I am so excited and honoured to be part of the awards this year. I am very humbled to be put forward. I haven't told anyone about it but I know my partner Mark will be so proud, he knows all the time I have put in the cadets and the community."

Desmond Rex Williams has been awarded a BEM for his services to snooker and billiards. The 87-year-old, who prefers to be known as Rex, became a professional player at 17 years old in 1951.

Mr Williams, from Stourbridge, has enjoyed a successful career in both sports, winning the World Professional Billiard Championship seven times between 1968 and 1983.

He also became the founder and first chairman of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association – and played a pivotal role in raising up both sports.

Rex Williams

His outstanding performances ensure that billiards remained a national sport while he reformed the Professional Snooker Championship from a challenge match basis, to a knockout competition and attracted sponsors worldwide.

Other achievements included playing in the first BBC Pot Black series in 1969, touring South Africa and Australia, and making the second recognised maximum 147 break in 1965.

He was also the oldest player to make the final of a major ranking tournament in 1986 aged 53 years old – and was inducted into the Snooker Hall of Fame in 2016.

He said: "It does mean a lot to me to have this honour and I take it in the name of all the great billiards players of the past. It’s nice when you have done something all your life and been reasonably successful at it to get recognition like this.”

While Reanne Evans, from Dudley, has been awarded an MBE for her services to women's snooker.

Paul Birch, 65, from Wolverhampton, will receive a BEM for services to the UK music industry, and Ceri Davies has been awarded a BEM for services to people with disabilities, disadvantaged and life-limited children and their families.

A CBE has also been awarded to Suzanne Banks, from Stone, for services to nursing; and Richard Gill, from Lichfield, for services to education.

An OBE has also been awarded to Carl Hardwick, from Wolverhampton, for services to Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service and women in custody during Covid-19.

An MBE has also been awarded to Margaret Ann Southall, from Stourbridge, for services to education; Hans Ahmed, from Wednesbury, for services to Her Majesty's Prison and Probation Service during Covid-19; and Maxie Alphonso Hayles, from Oldbury, for services to the community in Birmingham.

A BEM has also been awarded to Mervyn Needham, from Kidderminster, for services to conservation and the community in Chaddesley Corbett; Jennifer Ann Dunn, from Cannock, for services to the community; Joseph Luke Trusselle, from Codsall, for services to neighbourhood policing; and Rosemary Caroline Haines, from Halesowen, for voluntary service to children and young people.

Entertainers from the West Midlands are also among those being honoured.

Actor Adrian Lester, who is from Birmingham and learned his trade at Birmingham Youth Theatre, is granted a CBE, an upgrade on his OBE awarded seven years ago.

Adrian Lester

And Birmingham singer-songwriter Joan Armatrading is awarded a CBE for services to music. She had already been awarded an MBE in 2001.

Joan Armatrading performing at Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury

Damehoods are given to former Great British Bake Off judge Mary Berry and veteran actress Maureen Lipman.

Mary Berry

Ms Berry, who was made a CBE in 2012, is being made a dame for services to broadcasting, the culinary arts and charity, while Ms Lipman is honoured for her services to charity, entertainment and the arts during her 50-year career.

Meanwhile, Sir David Attenborough, receives an upgrade to Knight Grand Cross in the diplomatic list for services to broadcasting and conservation.

Phil Redmond, the creator of Grange Hill, Brookside and Hollyoaks, has been knighted for services to broadcasting and arts in the regions, while writer and director Sally Wainwright is made OBE.

For services to music, British rapper Dizzee Rascal has been been made an MBE, while hip hop duo Krept and Konan are awarded the BEM.

Dizzee Rascal

In the entertainment industry, soap star and singer Mica Paris is being made an MBE for services to music, entertainment and charity.

There are knighthoods for Tommy Steele, dubbed Britain’s “first rock n roll star”, for services to entertainment and charity, and actor David Suchet for services to drama and charity.

There are CBEs for the University of Manchester’s Professor Brian Cox and TV presenter Lorraine Kelly.

British fashion designer Paul Smith, who was knighted in 2000, is getting an upgrade after being appointed to the prestigious Order of the Companions of Honour, joining the likes of Sir Elton John, JK Rowling and Sir Paul McCartney.

Footballer Marcus Rashford has been made an MBE after his heroic efforts in ensuring no child went hungry over the summer period during the pandemic.

His campaign forced the Government to make a U-turn over its free school meals provision and now he is being honoured for services to vulnerable children in the UK during Covid-19.

Among other celebrities recognised is body coach Joe Wicks, who is made an MBE for helping children keep active and mentally fit during lockdown with his online PE lessons.

Mr Wicks said: “My childhood and how I grew up, if you met me as a little boy you’d have thought ‘He’s not going to go anywhere, he’s not going to do anything great’.

Joe Wicks

“But I’ve turned it around and I really am proud I’ve become this person who’s helping people.”

Hot on the heels of Mr Wicks is Derrick Evans, more commonly known as Mr Motivator, who has been made an MBE after creating online home exercises during lockdown and hosting a week-long workout with Linda Lusardi to raise money for Age UK’s Emergency Coronavirus Appeal.

The television star said he initially thought he was being “scammed” when told of the honour, adding that he was delighted and that it was “wonderful to be acknowledged in this way”.

He said: “If only my parents were really here with me now, they would be so chuffed, but I think in spirit they are actually hovering up there and they are saying ‘Boy, you done good’.”

Joining the list of celebrities who have helped with Covid-19 efforts is Birmingham rapper Lady Leshurr.

She is being awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) after releasing a coronavirus-related song this year reminding people to wash their hands.

She said: “I can’t believe that the Queen of England has noticed and commended the Queen of Grime.

“I’ve always held my integrity and it just proves, you know, if you believe in yourself and your craft, and you just work and build, you will be commended and you will be rewarded for your success and what you bring to the universe.”

The list includes 740 women, which represents 49 per cent of the total, lower than the 50.7 per cent seen in the New Years Honours list last year, while six per cent of people being honoured considered themselves to have a disability.

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