UNSUNG heroes from across the North-East joined a host of celebrities and dignitaries being recognised by the Queen in her New Year Honours List today.
Nearly 50 people from around the region have been honoured for contributions to communities across the North-East, with charity volunteers, business leaders, teachers and religious figures among those who will be picking up awards.
The list is headed by lollipop lady Dorothy Thompson, who has worked at St Joseph’s Primary School in North Shields for 37 years and is known locally as Dot the Lollipop.
She said: “I couldn’t speak when I found out. You don’t get awards because you love your job and you love children and their parents.
“The job is its own reward.
“In a way I’m embarrassed but it’s not that I’m flippant about it – I realise the seriousness of it all. It’s all very humbling.”
Also picking up a gong will be renowned artist Norman Cornish, from Spennymoor in County Durham, who has won acclaim around the world for paintings that have captured the declining North-East mining industry.
South Tyneside Council chief executive Irene Lucas is awarded a CBE and said: “I’m extremely surprised, but obviously delighted personally, but also professionally.
“It’s a strange feeling because nothing in life is ever achieved by one individual. I’ve been privileged to work with some stunning people and some stunningly talented teams.”
Also collecting a CBE will be Dr Bill Kirkup, director general for clinical programmes for the Department of Health.
The former regional director of public health in the North-East said: “I’m really pleased – it’s a massive honour.
“I hope it reflects on the teams that I have worked with. I have worked around the world, in Kosovo, Iraq twice and in Afghanistan.”
Newcastle University lecturer Dr David Golding is awarded a CBE for his work with the World Poverty Campaign.
A life-long volunteer with development and relief agency Tearfund, Dr Golding helped found Make Poverty History North East and is now its development coordinator, as well as a national board member for the charity.
Among the hometown heroes picking up honours was Margaret Elliott, the founder and executive director of Sunderland Home Care Associates, who was awarded an OBE for services to the city. She has been a leading figure in the Social Enterprise movement for more than 30 years.
She said: “I see it is a huge pat on the back for the 220 owner workers of Sunderland Home Care Associates for their hard work and commitment to providing high quality care and support to our clients.”
Meanwhile, Renee Herkes Hub was awarded an MBE for her involvement with the League of Friends through South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust.
She has been doing voluntary work in the area for around 25 years and yesterday a trust spokeswoman paid tribute to her contribution.
She said: “She is an outstanding person in every respect and we are absolutely delighted at the trust.
“Her work is absolutely invaluable.”
Another North-East recipient was Jamie Martin, managing partner at Ward Hadaway solicitors.
Among his other commitments, he is also vice-chairman of Newcastle College and regional chairman of the Confederation of British Industry.