From nurses to charity workers and volunteers – those who have stood strong in the face of the virus crisis have been singled out for special praise.
Among them is regional chief nurse for the West Midlands, Siobhan Heafield who has been made an MBE for services to nursing and the Covid-19 response. During the Covid pandemic she provided senior clinical support and helped address supply challenges for the Nightingale Hospital in Birmingham. She was also tasked with managing the PPE crisis on behalf of all trust chief nurses in the Midlands.
The 60-year-old, from Stafford, said: “I’m a working class girl from Staffordshire. What I have done is my job. I’m really humbled and I am really proud for nursing.”
She added: “It’s been a tough year. I’m really proud of what we have done in nursing over the last year, particularly as it was supposed to be year of nursing with the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale – but instead everyone was battling on the frontline with Covid.
"I have done what I have done because I have got a team of nurses around me that do the doing that I lead. It’s for everyone who has helped me, people who have given me an opportunity to progress.”
Julie Grainger, from Stourbridge, has been awarded an MBE for charitable and voluntary services to sufferers of dementia and their families.
Around 15 years ago, Julie, 62, helped set up the Wolverhampton Alz Cafe for Alzheimer sufferers. During the pandemic the club has not been able to meet in person, but Julie has been in weekly contact with her members by phone.
She said: “I used to work at Penn Hospital, but prior to that my father had dementia, he had working age dementia, so I became very passionate about it, but that was 30 plus years ago. But I have always had a passion about working with people with dementia to try and make a difference.
“The award came as complete shock – I was overwhelmed and very, very emotional. It’s sunk in a little bit more and I still can’t quite believe that somebody has taken the trouble to nominate me.
“This is a tribute really to the team of volunteers who work with us on the cafe because they all do it for nothing – and we do it because we are really passionate about it and want to make a difference. It’s a real tribute to all the volunteers at the cafe.”
Kim Hatton and Claire McKen, from Wolverhampton-based charity Let Us Play, have both been awarded a BEM for their services to special educational needs families during the Covid pandemic. Let Us Play aims to help children special needs and disabilities. During the pandemic, they supported families with calls, sending out activity packs and regular Zoom quizzes.
Charity manager, Kim, 61, from Sedgley, who has been with Let Us Play since 2007, said: “My first thought was one of feeling appreciated. Sometimes we feel that what we do goes unnoticed and although nothing either of us has ever done has been for any kind of reward or thanks it was a lovely warm feeling to think that we are so appreciated.”
Assistant manager, Claire, 44, from Cheslyn Hay, added: “Getting this honour is a real shock, which literally, took my breath away. I feel both incredibly proud and extremely humble as everyone involved in our delivery last year deserves recognition for the part that they played.”
Region's heroes saluted
Dozens of people from the West Midlands, Staffordshire and Worcestershire have been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Barry Bond, 77, from Wombourne, has been honoured with an MBE for his services to education. Barry, who is the chairman of governors at Green Park School in Wolverhampton, has supported individuals with special needs voluntarily for more than 40 years, championing the needs of the SEND community and embodying the ethos that every child matters.
He began volunteering with special needs groups in the 1980s, helping to raise funds, awareness and lead holiday trips giving disabled individuals unique travel experiences. He said: “I was very, very pleased when I first found out – but in a way I was quite sad because my wife, Mary, died just two years ago and she had been a great support to me throughout the time I had been involved in voluntary organisations and I would have really loved her to be there to enjoy the recognition. She was always very supportive and also did a lot of fundraising for the school. It would have put the icing on the cake for her to be here and share the success.
“I think the young people and adults with special needs and disabilities are very much overlooked in society and I got involved to try and help them to get a better deal really. I wanted to act as an advocate to young people with special needs.”
Tonia Enderbury, from Kidderminster, has been given a BEM for services to the community in Droitwich. The 51-year-old is the chairman of the voluntary group Droitwich CVS and during the Covid pandemic she showed the foresight to divert all the charity’s resources towards supporting vulnerable members of the community.
She created new services such as delivery of more than 4,000 prescriptions and thousands of food parcels, over 600 wellbeing bags, and other services such as dog walking, taking pets to vets, gardening, DIY, telephone befriending, posting of letters and parcels, banking and information.
She said: “I was really shocked to find out because to me I am just doing my job. It does take over your life, but we love what we do and we can see the benefit – on a daily basis you can see how much people appreciate the support you give them.”
Alan Pearson, 48, from Hednesford, has been made an MBE for his services to education. Mr Pearson was appointed the headteacher of New Invention Junior School, in Walsall, in September 2013 – and since then has worked to improve educational standards.
He said: “I am completely humbled to receive this phenomenal honour which came as a complete shock to me when I received an email from the Cabinet Office last month.”
A soldier from Walsall has been made an MBE. Staff Sergeant Jamie Barrett of the Royal Armoured Corps Engagement Team, based in Bovington, Dorset, has been recognised for his unstinting work engaging with communities and his charity work.
Jamie, 40, grew up in Shelfield, where he attended Shelfield Community School, now Ormiston Shelfield Academy.
He said: “I’m overwhelmed at the thought of receiving this honour as I had never even dreamt this would be something that would happen to me. It also fills me with pride that my work and drive is recognised and rewarded. It feels surreal.”
Between 2018 and 2020 Jamie organised the attendance of his military engagement team and armoured display vehicles at over 100 events, including county shows and air festivals, where they explained the role of the Army and the Armoured Corps.
He has also helped inspire school children around the country by supporting battlefield tours as part of a government study programme initiative.
Jamie added: “I particularly enjoyed the schools centenary battlefield study programme. A highlight was the honour of laying a wreath at the Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate in Belgium with so many different children.”
He has helped raise both money and awareness for the plight of homeless veterans, sleeping rough with them during the winter on the streets of Blandford.
Jamie said of his charity work: “There is always a way to help. Raising money or sleeping rough to raise awareness are small things but can be effective if it also inspires others to get involved or spend a little time to raise money. I will always dedicate my personal time to charity work or assisting programmes that can inspire people.”
H joined the Army in 1998 and served with Queen’s Royal Lancers who eventually amalgamated to become The Royal Lancers. During his 22-year career, he has deployed to Kosovo and Cyprus and completed three tours of Iraq, being recognised for his work with a Brigade Commander’s Commendation and two tours of Afghanistan with the Brigade Reconnaissance Force. He was also recognised for his outstanding commitment as a Staff Instructor to the Royal Yeomanry.
Leading paediatrician Dr John Alexander, from the University Hospitals of North Midlands (UHNM) NHS Trust has been made an MBE for his work in caring for critically ill children and young people. The 63-year-old joined UHNM in 1997 and has been improving the care of critically ill children and young people in the West Midlands region for nearly 25 years.
Dr Martin Allen, consultant respiratory physician from UHNM has been awarded an MBE for his services to the NHS, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Businessman and dedicated charity campaigner Peter Williams is made an MBE for services to sufferers of multiple sclerosis. Mr Williams, 88, is the chairman of Wolverhampton and District MS Therapy Centre which he helped to pioneer 35 years ago as a member of the Wolverhampton Rotary Club.
The Repair Shop's Jay Blades, 51, who used to live in lived in Wolverhampton, was made an MBE for services to craft
Professor Tom Clutton-Brock, director of the medical devices testing and evaluation centre, and professor of anaesthesia and intensive care medicine at the University of Birmingham and associate medical director at University Hospitals of Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, has been made an MBE for services to the NHS during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The University of Birmingham’s head of security and emergency planning, George Wrigley, has been made an MBE.
He said: ‘I am completely overwhelmed that people I have worked with on the pandemic have seen fit to recommend me for a 'gong'.”
‘Now more than ever there are unsung heroes to be honoured’
The Lord-Lieutenant of the West Midlands has praised the “amazing people” given recognition in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours.
John Crabtree OBE said; “Making up the fabric of the West Midlands are some amazing people whose stamina, ambitions and work quietly deliver a better, brighter and kinder place.
“These people with big hearts are often known within their neighbourhoods but fail to gain the wider credit they deserve and never has this been more prevalent than during the recent Covid crisis. This year’s recipients showcase a range of outstanding achievements and provide an insight into the region and the people that make it so great. We are all very grateful for what they do each and every day and I am absolutely delighted to see so many gain the recognition they deserve in this year’s Birthday Honours.
“Through the activities of the West Midlands Lieutenancy, I come across many people providing support and giving their time to help others. Now more than ever, there are so many unsung heroes who deserve to be honoured.”
Ian Dudson CBE, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Staffordshire, said: “I am delighted that Her Majesty has recognised so many residents, who have made a significant contribution to their community, either professionally, or in a voluntary capacity.
“I would like to congratulate all of these worthy recipients on behalf of the whole ceremonial county of Staffordshire – we share their pride and pleasure in this notable achievement."
List of local honours
Commanders of the Order of the British Empire (CBE):
Professor Chuka Uchemefuna Nwokolo – for services to the NHS and medical research
Amanda Penelope Sunderland – for services to nursing
Officers of the Order of the British Empire (OBE):
Michael Robert Ramsey – for services to public protection
Margaret Isobel Bernadette Kincade – for services to the taxation of the oil industry
Jayne Lowe – for services to education
Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE):
Sally Alexander – for services to education
Professor Thomas Henry Clutton-Brock – for services to the NHS during Covid-19
Dr Maurice Hugh Joseph Conlon – for services to health during Covid-19
Julie Elizabeth Grainger – for charitable and voluntary services to sufferers of dementia and their families
Cheryl Claire Harbourne – for services to veterans during Covid-19
Gavin Stuart Kibble – for services to the community in Coventry, particularly during Covid-19
Professor Margaret Johnston Low – for services to public engagement and widening participation
Linda McGrath– for services to education
Jane Mary Nickerson – for services to swimming during the Covid-19 pandemic
Karin Qureshi – for services to mental health and higher education
Bernadette Rochford – for services to the NHS
Jay Blades – for services to craft
Peter Williams – for services to sufferers of multiple sclerosis
Dr John Alexander – for services to critically ill children and young people
Corrine Boden – for services to the community in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire particularly during Covid-19
Barry Michael Bond – for services to education
Julia Catherine Bridgewater – for services to the NHS particularly during Covid-19
Zoe Adelle Clark-Coates – for services to the baby loss community and the improvement of bereavement care
Neil Anthony Dawson – for services to the community in Stoke-on-Trent
Aida Haughton – for services to remembering Srebrenica
Eric Horabin – for voluntary service to the ex-service community
Karl Humphries – for services to education
Tracey Maria Johnson – for services to financial services during Covid-19
Josepha Hannah Morris (Josie Morris) – for services to manufacturing and the environment
Ian Andrew Noons – for services to HM Prison and Probation Service
Alan Pearson – for services to education
Siobhan Heafield (Siobhan Reilly) – for services to nursing and the Covid-19 response
Rebecca Rollason – for services to Government during the Covid-19 response
Clifford John Thornton Stott – for services to crowd psychology and the Covid-19 pandemic response
Michael John Hopkins – for services to education
Geoffrey Robert Thomas – for services to the NHS and charity
Medallists of the Order of the British Empire (BEM):
Atif Ali – for services to the community in Birmingham during Covid-19
Robert Capella – for services to policing and the community in Lozells, Birmingham
Maureen Carroll – for services to the community in Balsall Common
Yousif Mohammed Eltom – for services to scouting and young people
Kim Hatton – for services to special educational needs families during the Covid-19 pandemic
Manoj Kumar Lal – for services to assisting vulnerable migrants in the West Midlands
Claire McKen – for services to families with special educational needs during Covid-19
Orighoye Onuwaje – for services to professional development
Jane Alison Peplow – for services to charitable fundraising and voluntary work
John Montgomerie Nadin Sidebotham – for services to wellbeing during Covid-19
Lee Bates – for services to the community in Tamworth during Covid-19
Paul Brindley – for services to the community in Tamworth and Covid-19 response projects
Hannah Findlay – for services to the food supply chain
Janet Hewes – for services to the community in Gnosall and District, Staffordshire
Craig Ashley Browne – for services to charitable fundraising and volunteering during Covid-19
Tonia Bonita Enderbury – for services to the community in Droitwich Spa and district
Queen’s Police Medal (QPM)
Stewart Paul Bladen – constable at West Midlands Police
Mark Keith Payne – detective chief superintendent at West Midlands Police