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

More than half a dozen of Shropshire’s most worthy individuals have been commended in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Professor Mark O'Shea
Professor Mark O'Shea

From travelling the world helping those in need, to developing some of the country’s most highly-skilled workers, eight people across the county have been included in the prestigious honours – which has to be delayed in June due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The honours list recognises the achievements of a wide range of extraordinary people across the United Kingdom and is an award given by the Queen for outstanding service to the community or local ‘hands on’ service.

A total of nine residents from Shropshire and Powys have been awarded a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), or a British Empire Medal (BEM).

One of those extraordinary people is 57-year-old Dr Derek Farrell from Bridgnorth, who has been awarded an MBE for services to psychology.

Specialising in trauma support, Mr Farrell contributes his expertise free of charge to people in psychological distress, particularly the survivors of traumatic situations, across the world.

Dr Derek Farrell

Some of these include survivors of the Hillsborough disaster, victims of child sexual exploitation and natural disasters, and those suffering in war-torn countries.

He has provided clinical training in the UK and set up recovery programmes around the world, specifically in Turkey, India, Pakistan and Iraq.

Living in High Town, Derek said his commendation came “out of the blue”.

“I feel incredibly honoured and a little overwhelmed,” he said.

“It came completely out of the blue and being embargoed since June, it’s been strange having this wonderful news and not being able to tell anyone.

“I’ve been working in the field of psychology for the last 30 years. I started off working with adult survivors of child sexual abuse. Some of the earlier work I did was with the abuse around the Roman Catholic Church, and working with Hillsborough survivors back in ‘89,

“From about 1999, I was going out and working in big disaster areas such as earthquake zones and warzones.”

'George' Miah

Some of the countries he has set up clinical programmes in include Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Turkey, Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia.

“It’s often environments where the mental health resources are not as established, so we go in and put training and clinical programmes together to make people more aware of trauma, the impact it has, and how to cope," he added.

“On one level I’ve been very lucky, it’s taken me all over the world. But it’s also taken me into very precarious places, dangerous and unsettled places, and it’s often in those environments you see large numbers of trauma populations.”

Despite working in some of the most challenging conditions, Mr Farrell said he saw as much light and hope in the world as he did.

“I must add,” he said. “Even in the really painful, most difficult environments, where you’re exposed to the worst things human beings can do to one another, you also see the opposite.

“You see the best in people where they come forward and will sacrifice everything to help their neighbour, their community, their family.”

Gaye Blake-Roberts. Photo: Yeah Lifestyle

Mr Farrell said his time in a war-torn Philippines and part of Pakistan devastated by an earthquake are moments that will stay with him for a lifetime.

He said: “Going into the Philippines after ISIS took over Mindanao and seeing the sheer level of devastation brought about by the armed conflict, going around the whole city that was completely and utterly destroyed, will stay with me for a long time.

“I remember being in an earthquake zone in northern Pakistan and a farmer inviting me into his little house for a cup of tea, despite him not speaking English and me not speaking Urdu, and we shared this beautiful moment together.

“In Iraq, bear in mind we’ve been to war with them twice in my lifetime, yet you’re always made to feel very welcome because the people there know you’re trying to help.”

He also uses his knowledge and experience to run a Masters Degree at the University of Worcester, where he has been a principal lecturer since 2012.

He also runs a twice-weekly group therapy session for adult men abused as children by priests and other church figures, and aided in the recovery during the Grenfell Tower fire.

Martin Yates

Denise Gaye Blake-Roberts, the former director and curator of Wedgwood Museum Trust, from Uffington near Shrewsbury, has been awarded an MBE for her services to heritage.

The historian from Shrewsbury saved the award-winning museum from closing has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Gaye, as she is known, has also been heavily involved in the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust since it was founded, as well as saving the Wedgwood Museum in Staffordshire, now known as the V&A Collection at World of Wedgwood.

The 68-year-old was born in Staffordshire and was educated at Wellington High School in Shropshire.

In l97l, she joined the staff of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, working in the Department of Ceramics and Glass.

She was given special leave to assist in the formation of the Coalport China Works Museum, which forms part of the Ironbridge Gorge Museums today.

In l979, Ms Blake-Roberts became curator of the Wedgwood Museum in Staffordshire and was in charge of operating the historical attraction.

Lady Leshurr

During her time there the museum underwent several monumental changes including the development of a new building housing exhibition galleries and research facilities, which won the prestigious Art Fund Prize of Museum of the Year in 2009.

“I’m obviously deeply honoured to be recognised in this way,” she said.

“I’ve been fortunate to work with such wonderful colleagues and I feel very humbled that I’ve been given this award.

“In many cases my work has been a team effort but I’m very fortunate to have played such a significant role.”

Ms Blake-Roberts retired from the Wedgwood Museum in February and is currently senior research fellow attached to the Research Department of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

She has also published numerous books, most recently including Innovation and Ingenuity.

Dizzee Rascal

Professor Mark Timothy O’Shea from Priorslee in Telford, who lectures at the University of Wolverhampton, has been recognised for his services to Higher Education, Zoology, Reptile Conservation and Snakebite Research.

An expert herpetologist, photographer, author, lecturer, and television personality, and Wolverhampton-born and educated, the 64-year-old was appointed Professor of Herpetology at the University of Wolverhampton in 2018.

He teaches on the university’s animal behaviour and wildlife conservation course and held the position of Curator of Reptiles at West Midland Safari Park from 1987 until recently.

An internationally renowned TV presenter and reptile expert, he is an explorer, professional photographer, author, public speaker and respected scientist.

He said: “I was astonished to hear that I had been put forward for an MBE, the first I knew was when I received official notification from the Cabinet Office.

“I’m absolutely thrilled and humbled to have been recognised in this way.

Joe Wicks

"Not only is this rewarding me for my long, varied and, at times, dangerous career, it is putting the spotlight on the research I do, especially highlighting the problem of snakebites around the world.

“What I learned during my time at Wolverhampton Polytechnic played a really important role in my transition from reptile enthusiast to reptile scientist.

"And the most important thing is that my life experiences enable me to give back to and encourage the next generation of zoologists and herpetologists.”

As an advocate for herpetological conservation issues, Professor O'Shea works in areas where there are high incidences of snakebites which claim up to 138,000 lives each year and permanently disable a further 400,000 victims.

He has conducted herpetological fieldwork or made films in almost 50 countries, on every continent except Antarctica.

His research has also led him to describe four new snake species and a new gecko, with approximately eight new snake species in the pipeline.

Gareth James Smith, from Shrewsbury, is the department lead at Severndale Specialist Academy and has been awarded an MBE for his services to Children and Young People during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Professor Brian Cox

Martin William Yates from Albrighton has also received an MBE for his work teaching aircraft engineers and was officially recognised for services to the WorldSkills Competition.

A specialist who trains the UK’s best young aircraft engineers to international standards has been awarded an Order of the British Empire.

For his work, he has been commended with an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Mr Yates, 62, has just returned home from working at Cotswold Airport.

He said: “To be awarded an MBE is overwhelming. I’m very pleased and humbled by it all.

"I’ve been lucky enough to work with young people for over 30 years in youth clubs and Duke of Edinburgh schemes.

“I just love taking them up to a higher level, I’m very lucky and honoured to be involved in that.

Joan Armatrading performing at Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury. WITH WORDS.. PIC BY SIMON WILLIAMS

“My work with WorldSkills is in a volunteer capacity and I seek out young competitors that have successfully been placed in the top five aircraft engineers in the UK.

"They then form a squad and my job is to train them up to an international standard.

“I then find the best one of that five and take them onto international competitions. Having been in the sector for 40 years, I’ve made some very good friends at various organisations who allow me to carry out my work at various venues – I use the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy quite a bit.”

Although his work is voluntary, he said the enthusiasm of his students is more than enough of a reward for his contribution to British aircraft engineering.

“You can’t come across more highly motivated people,” he said. “They’re the best of the best and have such a thirst and hunger for knowledge.

"Once their two-year journey with me comes to an end their life changes.

“They all go on to do greater things and are often head-hunted by organisations from all over the world.”

Adrian Lester

Elaine Buckland from Welshpool has been awarded an MBE for her services to music and charity.

Restaurant owner Sufu Miah, from Oswestry, has been awarded a BEM for his services to the community throughout the town.

Mr Miah, who is know by everyone as George, opened his restaurant, The Simla, in Oswestry 44 years ago, and has played a huge part in the community ever since.

He said his British Empire Medal was overwhelming and a complete shock.

Mr Miah has raised hundreds of thousands of pound for charity over the years, mainly Shropshire charities and good causes but also to help the Indian sub continent.

He and his wife Julie also have links with several local schools, helping to give the pupils an understanding of Indian culture or getting involved with their international week celebrations.

Phil Redmond

“The charity work is a whole team effort involving the family and my staff,” he said.

“It is something that I have done, quietly, for a long, long time.”

He has also spent many years involved in the Muslim community for Shropshire and beyond.

He has been chairperson for the Shropshire Bangladeshi Welfare Society for 24 years, which was at the forefront of getting a prayer centre in Shrewsbury and has been involved with the Wrexham mosque.

And he is involved in the UK wide Greater Sylhet Development and Welfare Council which helps the Bangladeshi community in the UK.

“It is as a businessman that I have been able to be a part of the community and I can not thank enough my customers and those who put me forward for such a high award. I am overwhelmed.”

“I am only sorry that my hero, my old form teacher, George Evans from Orelton Park School, Wellington, is not here for me to be able to share this news with him.

Mary Berry is to become a dame, reports a Sunday newspaper

"We kept in touch all through these years and sadly he passed away recently.”

Margaret Maureen Hamer and Elizabeth Frances Lewis, from Church Stretton, have both received a BEM for their services to the community throughout the town.

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.

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

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

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.

Sir David Attenborough

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.

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.

mr motivator

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’.

“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.

Maureen Lipman

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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