These are the unsung heroes from the North East who have been honoured by the Queen this year.
The New Year Honours list for 2021 has been revealed and it features plenty of people from our region who have been applauded for a variety of achievements.
A string of MBEs, OBEs and BEMs have been handed out and here is a look at just some of the recipients who have been singled out for their hard work and dedication.
They include people who have helped to regenerate their communities as well as those who have been promoting North East culture or providing support to others.
Richard Ord MBE
Richard Ord, 66, from Whitburn, is being awarded an MBE for services to the hospitality industry and regeneration in South Tyneside.
Richard, who is known for running the award-winning Colmans fish and chip shop on Ocean Road in South Shields, has helped increase visitor numbers to South Tyneside by millions through his advice and support, bringing a £305m economic benefit.
He paid for the regeneration of a run-down public area and bandstand and created the iconic Colmans Seafood Temple.
Colmans was the first shop to gain the Marine Stewardship Council Chain of Custody, leading the way to change the mindset of fish and chip operators and make them think about using and promoting sustainable fish.
In addition, he welcomes young people as part of their education programme, teaching them how to run a business and how they have a responsibility to the community. He served as a member of the Board of the National Federation of Fish Friers from April 2011 to August 2013.
On getting the MBE, Richard, said: “I’m shocked and delighted. All I have been doing is my job for the last 50 years. I don’t know any more or any less than anyone else.
“This is humbling as well. This is not just about me. It’s for my family and all the loyal customers who have supported us over the years. Without them, there’s no Colmans. I must thank them all.”
He explained their family business had been going since 1905. It was started by his great-grandfather and passed down to him and his wife Frances, 55. Now it’s into the fifth generation with their sons Richard, 28, and Dominic, 23, involved.
And there may yet be another generation keen to play a part in the future. His grandson, also called Richard and who will be two in January, “loves fish and chips”.
David Bailey BEM
David Bailey is a Northumbrian Piper who has served the Lord Mayor of Newcastle for more than 30 years.
He plays the Northumbrian smallpipes – a variety of bellows-blown bagpipes unique to the North East. They have been an important part of the region’s musical culture for more than 200 years.
After the position of official Piper to the Lord Mayor of Newcastle was revived in 1984, after 150 years, he became only the second person to hold that honour in the modern era, taking over the voluntary position in 1988.
He has since served in the role with distinction for 32 years, to the present day, serving more than 30 Lord Mayors.
His duty is to perform at official functions and the volume of ceremonies makes the voluntary role a large commitment of time.
David, 68, from Morpeth, is receiving a British Empire Medal for services to music.
The grandad-of-three said: “It was totally unexpected. I am really quite elated. There are not many of us around and it’s important to kep this culture going.”
He explained that he started playing the instrument after he took on a challenge to make a set of pipes many years ago.
“I was a teacher in woodwork and metalwork,” he added. “My deputy head at the time suggested I have a go a making a set. It escalated from that and I started playing the instrument.
“I still enjoy it but more than that, it’s about the people you get to meet. When I’m performing at functions, there’s always someone who comes across and asks about the pipes. People are generally very interested.”
Anand Bhatt BEM
Anand Bhatt has received the honour in recognition of his services to dance and community, in particular, his successes as executive producer at Aakash Odedra Company (AOC) in Leicester, which he jointly founded with Aakash Odedra in 2011.
Anand founded his first dance school in Leicester, Desi Masti, in 2003, where he trained more Boogie Woogie national champions than any other.
His work with Aakash Odedra took Leicester produced work to world-class institutions around the world. This success enabled the local investment which was so important to Anand.
Partnering with Shiamak Davar International, the world’s largest Bollywood dance school, the Leicester organisation was the HQ for classes all over the country from Manchester to Dartford reaching over 1000 people per week.
In July 2020 Anand became Chief Executive and Artistic Director at Dance City in Newcastle.
Anand said: “Firstly, I would like to thank my Gurus and elders who have guided me and blessed me on this journey.
“I have a great passion for the power of dance and the role it can play in transforming lives and communities. Hundreds of people have dedicated their time on this journey, so thank you to all of them.
“I am humbled to be recognised in this way, and at this stage of my career, when there is still so much to do, gives me great confidence and an energy boost.
“My work in Leicester was driven by a passion for what today is called ‘levelling up’.
“I believed the talent locally was as good as anywhere. The philosophy was always to create the conditions and structure to allow it to develop and flourish.
“In 2020 I started a new journey in the North East. I am motivated and excited about working with an incredibly passionate team at Dance City and work together to ensure that dance continues to play a great role in people’s lives.
“The North East has a world-class dance facility, one of the best in the UK, and together we will make sure it continues to enable artists to make their best work, for students to learn and for participants to feel invigorated.”
Pamela Clouston MBE
Pamela Clouston, of Rothbury, Northumberland, is being honoured with an MBE for services to her community.
The 70-year-old has been carrying out voluntary work for 25 years and has had a 35-year career in urban regeneration through her family company.
She has been the director of Clouston Group, previously Silverlink Properties, for around 30 years.
In the early 90s, she was appointed a magistrate in North Tyneside and rose to the position of a senior chairperson in The Family Court as well as a presiding magistrate in the adult court.
In 2002, she became a community first responder, supporting the North East Ambulance Service and its paramedic team. She regularly trains with the services and is also a certified instructor for defibrillator equipment.
She responds to a range of emergency calls during the week, often at night, with incidents including cardiac arrests and patients having breathing difficulties.
Pamela said she decided to become a first responder after seeing a notice in the village asking for people to help and she has done it ever since.
On receiving the award, she said: “I’m very surprised and very pleased. It’s all very good for promoting voluntary work in the community.”
Bradley Creswick MBE
Bradley Creswick, 64, of Whitley Bay, is being honoured with an MBE for services to music.
Mr Creswick, who retired in 2019, is one of the most highly respected orchestral leaders in the UK.
He has been described as “an outstanding, internationally renowned, musician and leader of the Royal Northern Sinfonia (RNS) Orchestra who has endeared himself to audiences at Sage Gateshead for the quality of his playing and his sheer enjoyment of the role”.
RNS is the only full-time chamber orchestra in England. It serves the North of England with a year-round programme of performance, education and community activities, as well as touring internationally.
Mr Creswick has been praised for his commitment, leading high-quality musical performances to audiences locally and internationally.
He has helped others build up their confidence and raise their standards of musicianship, and helps to develop the interest of young people through school visits and youth ensembles.
He said: “I’m so grateful for being given this award especially as it is for doing what I completely love to do.
“Since discovering classical music records through my mum, and being allowed to experiment on the violin at secondary school I have just had no wish to do anything else.
“The thrill of being part of a group of people, large or small, playing, singing or listening to fantastic music and getting to the heart of it is unbelievably exhilarating and fun.
“So I would also like to share the honour with all my colleagues in the music profession and particularly the fantastic and incredibly versatile RNS at Sage Gateshead.
“Also, it is especially heartening to hear of all the different ways our performing artists and teachers have been encouraging so many children and young people to discover these same pleasures . May it long continue.”
Sally Gallagher MBE
A woman who has dedicated her working life to protecting communities and safeguarding the environment has been given an MBE.
Sally Gallagher is a technical specialist in the Environment Agency’s groundwater, hydrology and contaminated land team based in Newcastle.
She is recognised for her work protecting communities and groundwater, which is the water found underground in the cracks and spaces in soil, sand and rock. It forms part of the water cycle, supports rivers and streams and is used to supply drinking water, agriculture and industry.
Sally has worked for the Environment Agency and its predecessor for 30 years, starting at age 25.
She began her career at Norfolk County Council and then Northumberland County Council’s waste disposal teams where she was involved with the early methane collection schemes, groundwater monitoring programme and mitigating water pollution.
Throughout her career, Sally says she has worked with ‘amazing, passionate people’ in the Environment Agency, Coal Authority, water companies and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Her career has seen her providing technical advice to Government, improving landfill engineering design, protecting drinking water and enhancing the water quality of rivers and lakes.
She has been instrumental in researching and raising awareness of groundwater resources, which the population unknowingly relies on so heavily.
She’s currently using her experience to find innovative approaches to managing the legacy of poor quality groundwater from old coal workings in the North East, and managing flood risk for the protection of current and future generations.
Sally said: “I love what I do. It is difficult but the outcomes are great, and I have seen so many of these over the past 30 years.
“Raising awareness has been a key part of my drive – I feel inspired and excited when I see others realise just how integral groundwater is to our community and our everyday lives.
“I’m motivated by their enthusiasm when they start to see how we can all work together to make the North East a better place and that many of the solutions and approaches are transferable to issues in other areas across the country.
“I am humbled and deeply honoured to be nominated let alone to receive such an honour. It shows that even your average person can be recognised for doing a job they have loved passionately throughout their career.
“I’d really like to thank my family who have supported me throughout, ensuring I’m grounded and focused, and helping me balance my home and working life.”
Darren McMahon MBE
Darren McMahon, 51, is being awarded an MBE for voluntary service to young people in Stanley.
Darren, from Stanely, has been a youth worker in the town for more than three decades and helped establish PACT House and has supported residents during the coronavirus pandemic.
PACT House has become a centre that ties the community together, and a youth cafe was set up to tackle anti-social behaviour that has become an integral part of the community.
The facility also provides a food bank, a community café, a training venue, a mental health counselling centre, an addiction support unit, business mentoring service, domestic abuse support centre, community radio station and more.
Despite being forced to close PACT House due to the pandemic, Darren worked seven days a week to ensure that all the essential services it provided continued throughout the crisis.
A Coronavirus Crisis Hotline was also set up that has helped the local community with over 7,000 issues. It covers everything from posting letters for people unable to leave their homes and providing friendship for isolated individuals, to supplying vital food packages for families and emergency support for those made unemployed.
Darren said: “That people believe what I do in the community has value and took the time to nominate me is a good feeling.
“My community and youth work are something that feels natural and normal to me, something I enjoy, something I feel gives benefit to others.
“The award shines a light on PACT House and Youth Work in Stanley, the much need services provided by community organisations and the amazing people I work with each day, that is what really excites me about this accolade
“Nothing I’ve ever done could have been so effective without the people around me, they are the true strength that drives our community forward.”
Rob Lawson OBE
Rob Lawson, 54, has been awarded an OBE for services to education in Sunderland.
He was appointed Chair of Sunderland College in 2013 after standing down as Editor of the Sunderland Echo and Editorial Director of North East Press in 2012.
He became chair of the EPNE regional board on the group’s creation. He is a National Leader in Governance for the Department of Education (DfE), working with other FE colleges across the country to improve their governance and is also a Reviewer for the DfE’s new governance pilot programme.
Rob is Sunderland born and bred, is a Trustee at Sunderland Music, Arts and Culture (MAC) Trust and a Sunderland Ambassador.
He is a former Chair of The Customs House, South Shields, a former Editor of The Shields Gazette and currently works in public relations.
Rob said: “While obviously thrilled at this recognition, the honour reflects the hard work, dedication and astonishing talent of the team – staff and governors – at EPNE.
“It was a real shock to receive the email about the honour and I was amazed to have been put forward. I have thoroughly enjoyed my roles with Sunderland College and EPNE, and I’m proud to have helped Sunderland College evolve and develop into the formidable group that EPNE has become.
“Throughout my time as chair, it has given me genuine pleasure to see at first hand the transformative impact education can have on young people, and this has inspired me to give so much time and energy.
“However, I have gained as much as I have given, both personally and professionally.”
Ellen Thinnesen OBE
Ellen Thinnesen was appointed chief executive and principal at Sunderland College in 2016 and after both mergers became chief executive for EPNE in 2019.
Ellen chairs the NE Local Enterprise Partnership (NELEP) Skills Advisory Panel and is also a NELEP board member.
She is a member of the Association of College’s Board and represents EPNE on other national, regional and local forums.
Ellen began her career as a qualified nurse in the NHS and has previously held high-profile positions within the education sector in Greater Manchester and the Yorkshire and Humber region.
She said: “I feel incredibly humbled and want to recognise the inspirational people that I am privileged to work with every day.
“This includes my brilliant leadership team and wider college staff, in addition to our national, regional and local partners and many diverse supporters.
“Collectively there are so many people who are instrumental in the success of EPNE’s vision, strategy and unquestionably the award of my OBE, which I am extremely grateful for”.