Published: 22:30, 30 December 2014
A Kent woman who became the first female to ski solo across Antarctica has been recognised in the new year honours.
Felicity Aston, from Hildenborough, is getting an MBE for services to Polar Exploration.
The former Birchington woman also this year trekked to the coldest inhabited place on earth.
The 37-year-old reached the Pole of Cold in January - braving temperatures nudging -50C in deepest Siberia.
Now she has described being awarded the MBE as "really quite emotional actually."
She added: "It's surprising how much it means that what you're doing has been noticed and it's been given this stamp of approval to say that it's appreciated - you can't really ask for more than that.
"For everybody, whatever you're doing, getting recognition for the effort you've put in feels really wonderful.
"It came completely out of the blue because quite a lot of time has passed since the last expedition that achieved a lot of notice, so it was a real surprise.
"I think my family are going to be really proud - I don't think it matters how old you get, going home to tell your mum and dad something you know they're going to be proud of gets you very emotional."
An activist from Maidstone was also among those honoured with an MBE for her services to politics in the town.
Liberal Democrat campaigner Dorothy Weedon has been a key local party figure since 1961, and was twice chairman of the local branch.
Now vice president, the 85-year-old of Bower Mount Road reckons she has delivered a leaflet or knocked on virtually every door in the constituency over five decades.
She was also presented with the Harriet Smith Award for services to liberalism last year.
Miss Weedon, who also worked as an administrator in the NHS for 30 years, said: “I’m feeling very pleased because I feel the work done by volunteers in keeping the democratic system going isn’t really recognised or understood, and it takes an awful lot of time and energy. For a large part those people are unsung."
Also receiving an MBE was Andrew Blundell from Tonbridge, for his services to young people.
The retired headteacher has been volunteering with the The Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme for more than 30 years and is currently unit leader of the town’s branch.
Mr Blundell, who taught at St John’s School in Tunbridge Wells, is an experienced mountaineer and qualified Mountain Leader who specialises in expedition training and assessment for young people wishing to complete their Gold Awards.
An OBE has been awarded to Graham Mungeam of Tonbridge for his services to children and families as the non-executive chairman of Oasis Community Learning.
The Trust was set up in 2004 and currently runs more than 40 Oasis academies in the UK including those in Gillingham and the Isle of Sheppey.
Mr Mungeam, 78, was a church leader for 34 years and an economic advisor to the government during the 1960s and 70s, as well taking on roles for various charities.
He has been secretary of the Christmas Cracker Trust, chairman of the Salmon Youth Centre in Bermondsey and director and chairman of InterHealth Worldwide, which supports relief and mission workers abroad.
Mr Mungeam said: "When I heard that I might be receiving an honour from the Queen it was a huge surprise.
"I have been greatly privileged to work with Oasis over the last 25 years and I am accepting this award on behalf of the many staff and volunteers who have devoted so much time and energy to supporting our mission of building strong communities that allow everyone to fulfil their God-given potential.
"It is also on behalf of the wonderful students in our Academies around the country. I am grateful to them all.”
And for services to the community in Tunbridge Wells, Nigel Stratton, has received an MBE.
A managing partner at Berry and Berry law firm, Mr Stratton has also dedicated himself to helping the elderly as a director of Age UK Tunbridge Wells, which operates a day centre in Wood Street.
Two Medway women have been recognised in the New Year’s honours list.
A great grandmother who has cared for her disabled daughter for nearly 50 years and, in later years her sick husband, has been awarded an MBE in the New Year’s honours list.
Rachel Littlewood, 84, from Gillingham, has been recognised for her services to caring and for helping those with learning disabilities.
The mother-of-six has worked tirelessly looking after her daughter Lucy,49 and her late husband Dr Mark Littlewood, 74, who lost his battle with cancer a decade ago.
Mrs Littlewood of Regent Road, said: “I am absolutely gobsmacked.
“To be honest I did not have much choice and tried to make something good out of it.
In those days there was not the support there is now from social services. Looking after my daughter was a 24-hour job.”
It was the lack of help from outside organisations that prompted Mrs Littlewood to start the Kent and Medway branch of Carers First which helps and advises those in the same situation as herself.
She is also a member of the Medway Faith and Light Christian group, a worldwide movement set up to help family and friends of people with learning disabilities.
The group meets at St Mark’s Church in Gillingham where she is a regular worshipper.
Mrs Littlewood lived in Aden and Cyprus where her husband worked as a doctor for BP specialising in tropical medicine. In his latter years he worked as GP for the Royal Engineers in Maidstone.
“I’m feeling very pleased because I feel the work done by volunteers in keeping the democratic system going isn’t really recognised or understood" - Dorothy Weedon
Mrs Littlewood, who has three great grandchildren, said: “We are very close family and it has been hard keeping quiet about this. But now the cat os out of the bag, perhaps we will celebrate with a party.”
Ms Stephanie Brivio from Rochester was also named in the honours list and was given an OBE (Order of the British Empire).
Ms Brivio, 54, who lives in St Margaret’s Street, is the assistant director of children protection and safeguarding group a the Department for Education.
She was given her award for services to child protection and to the community in Medway.
Ms Brivio, who is married and has a daughter aged 26, and a son who is 22, said she was quite shocked when she got the letter four or five weeks ago which informed her she was being awarded an OBE.
Speaking from France where she is taking a break, she said: “I was quite shocked when I got the letter but I am very pleased it is recognition of the vital work my team do.”
Ms Brivio grew up in St Helen’s near Liverpool and has worked at the Department for Education since 2003 and has been in her current role for the past four-and-a-half years.
She has lived in Medway since 1985.
She added: “We develop policies for vulnerable children and we work hard to deliver these policies for mostly abused and neglected children.
Ms Brivio has also worked on major Government reviews like Munro review of child protection in June 2010 and has also worked nationally on the child death policy.
A Dover resident, who is also a higher officer for the Border Force has been mentioned in the New Year’s Honours.
Sylvia Donnelly is a Samaritan and dedicates her time to child protection within the Border Force authority.
Ms Donnelly said: “I am delighted and very proud to receive this honour in recognition of my contribution to UK Border security - Child Protection (safeguarding and trafficking) and my voluntary work as a Samaritan.
“I regard it as an award for all those who work in these frequently difficult and challenging areas.
“Nothing I have achieved would have been possible without the support and hard work of many including senior management at Border Force South East and Europe but particularly the Calais Safeguarding and Trafficking Team.
"It has been a pleasure and a privilege to work with them. They have been an inspiration to me.”
Kent's new year's honours in full
Thomas Philip Winsor. HM chief inspector of Constabulary. For public service. (Kent)
ROYAL VICTORIAN MEDAL
Lance Sgt Stephen Centro Cassidy. Formerly Household of The Duke of Kent.
ORDER OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE
Ms Stephanie Brivio. Assistant director Child Protection, Safeguarding Group, Department for Education. For services to Child Protection and to the community in Medway. (Rochester, Kent)
Dr Ruth Louise Mallors-Ray. Formerly director of Aerospace and Defence Knowledge Transfer Networks. For services to Science, Innovation and Knowledge Transfer. (Sevenoaks, Kent)
Graham John Mungeam. Non-Executive chairman Oasis Community Learning. For services to Children and Families. (Tonbridge, Kent)
Professor Sarah Katherine Spurgeon. Professor of Control Engineering University of Kent. For services to Engineering. (Shepherdswell, Kent)
David John Ward. Route managing director South East, Network Rail. For services to the Rail Industry. (Ashford, Kent)
Miss Felicity Ann Dawn Aston. Antarctic Explorer. For services to Polar Exploration. (Tonbridge, Kent)
Andrew Richard Blundell. Volunteer The Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, Kent. For services to Young People. (Tonbridge, Kent)
Ms Sylvia Lesley Donnelly. Higher Officer Border Force South East and Europe, Home Office. For services to Child Protection and voluntary service in Canterbury. (Dover, Kent)
Ms Fiona Margaret Keyte. For services to Disadvantaged and Vulnerable People through Time Out in Canterbury Kent. (Canterbury, Kent)
Mrs Rachel Littlewood. For services to Family Carers through Carers First in Kent and Medway and to People with Learning Disabilities in Gillingham, Kent. (Gillingham, Kent)
Ms Jennifer Margaret Rafferty. Research Accounts manager University of Kent. For services to Higher Education. (Canterbury, Kent)
Nigel Morris Stratton. For services to the community in Tunbridge Wells Kent. (Tunbridge Wells, Kent)
Ms Dorothy Ann Weedon. For political service particularly in Maidstone, Kent. (Maidstone, Kent)
BRITISH EMPIRE MEDAL
Mrs Emma Callan. Counsellor, Waymark Counselling Trust and Arcadia Counselling Service. For services to the community in Canterbury and Herne Bay, Kent. (Whitstable, Kent)
Mrs Jane Doherty. Manager, Ashford Family Nursery, Kent. For services to Children and Families. (Ashford, Kent)
Mrs Tessa Eve Fineman. For services to the Arts in Ashford, Kent. (Ashford, Kent)
Raymond John Foster. Asset Performance Team Leader Environment Agency. For services to the Environment and Flood Risk Management. (Maidstone, Kent)
Mrs Gillian Cecily Fowler. For services to the community, particularly the League of Friends of the Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital in Herne Bay, Kent. (Herne Bay, Kent)
Mrs Maureen Sylvia Lewsey. Member, Kent County Priory Group. For voluntary service to St. John Ambulance. (Folkestone, Kent)
Mrs Margaret O'Prey. Voluntary Nursery assistant, Petts Wood Playgroup for Children with Special Needs, Kent. For services to Children and to the Community in Petts Wood. (London)
Mrs Rosalynde Havard Ward. For services to People with Disabilites in Sevenoaks, Kent and to Charity in Romania. (Sevenoaks, Kent)