The Queen’s New Year honours list has made knights and dames out of some of Britain’s best loved stage and screen stars, and recognised the sacrifices of doctors who treated Ebola victims, as well as Australian political strategist Lynton Crosby.
There was some controversy over the knighthood awarded to Crosby, a prominent architect of Prime Minister David Cameron’s general election strategy.
Veteran actress Barbara Windsor – familiar for decades since her work on the Carry On films – was on Wednesday given a damehood for her services, and celebrated Swan Lake choreographer Matthew Bourne was made a knight in recognition of his string of innovative successes.
Britain’s honours are bestowed twice a year by the monarch at New Year and on her official birthday in June.
Recipients are selected by committees of civil servants from nominations made by the government and the public.
Veteran Welsh stage actress Sian Philips was also made a dame, and actors David Oyelowo – who recently played Martin Luther King Jr in the film Selma – and James Nesbitt got OBEs.
The honour’s list goes far beyond entertainment.
This year the queen’s list has recognised the work of injured Falklands war veteran Simon Weston, who has founded a charity to help others suffering grave disfigurement cope with the massive changes to their lives.
Weston has refused to let his severe injuries and resulting disfigurement keep him in the shadows, and his charity has done the same for others. He was made a Commander of the British Empire in recognition.
“When I was injured, I feared that I would never be relevant again – not just in a military sense but also as a human being. Maybe it was my bullishness or my military background, but I was not going to let that happen,” he said.
“The charity Changing Faces recently published figures saying that 70 per cent of people with a disfigurement don’t go outside. I hope that with me being in the public eye it can inspire others – that you can live your life and can enjoy it despite what has happened.”
Honours also go to Dr Michael Jacobs, who received a knighthood for helping three British health care workers who contracted the Ebola virus while trying to prevent its spread in west Africa.
Dr Timothy Brooks received a CBE for leading the British laboratory response to the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, and many other awards were made to Britons involved with the crisis response.
On a lighter note, the queen recognised the man who designs many of her own one-of-a-kind outfits. Designer Stewart Parvin was made a member of the Royal Victorian Order.