After a year of community spirit and local heroes, it is now time to announce the Kent people who will be named in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.
The former leader of Kent County Council and chairman of the KM Media Group are among the people recognised for their contribution to the community.
Cllr Paul Carter CBE - for services to Local Government
Paul Carter, who was leader of Kent County Council for 14 years, is to receive a knighthood for services to local government.
He stepped down as the head of the local authority in October 2019 although at 65 he remains a county councillor serving Maidstone North which covers Bearsted and Boxley
The Conservative from Langley was first elected to the council in 1997 after a stint on Maidstone Borough Council and set about overhauling the county's 600 schools. He became leader in 2005.
He said he received news of the honour by email back in June.
"This was a complete and utter surprise and beyond all my expectations or wildest dreams," he said. "It is a great honour. I regard myself as one of the luckiest people around to have led the largest local authority. I am very proud of all the things we did."
He said the biggest challenge he faced at County Hall was dealing with Kent's education system and bureaucracy.
"To be honest, Kent's schools were in an appalling state. They were not performing well and primary schools had been seriously underfunded. It was a long journey and a lot of hard work to get them to where they are today," he said.
The businessman, who is married to Bridget (Breda) and has three grown-up children and three grandchildren, added: "I was also often frustrated by the pace of change in the public sector. I am not the most patient of men. I was always trying to blend best practices from the private sector to change what I called the mindset of lethargy in the public sector."
He is now planning to spend more time with his family, his companies (he was a founding partner property firm Gander plc) and on his hobby driving pre-war sports cars - he completed a 16-hour 1,000-mile endurance marathon in a 1927 car at Goodwood recently and will be back there this weekend for its annual Festival of Speed.
He admitted: "After nearly 30 years as an elected councillor I owe it my family and staff to spend a little more time with them which is why I stood down last year. My family certainly had to make sacrifices. I have served my time but it feels like only yesterday when I started."
He chaired the South East England Regional Assembly (later the South East England Councils) to champion for quality of life in the south east and became a Commander of the British Empire in the 2013 Queen's New Year's Honours list having guided the county council through a decade of austerity following the 2008 financial crash.
He has also provided support to charities including the Heart of Kent Hospice, Maidstone Hospital Friends and Vinters Park.
Roger Gough, the new leader of KCC, said: “I am delighted to congratulate Paul on this most special and well-deserved recognition.
"In his 14 years as leader of KCC, Paul was a courageous, passionate and innovative champion for the county and everyone in Kent but in particular for those most in need in the areas of education and healthcare.
"It is right that his contributions to local government and to Kent over so many years have been acknowledged with this prestigious national honour.”
Commander of the British Empire (CBE)
Theresa Ojo - For services to children and young people
Tessy Ojo, from Rochester , has been appointed CBE for her services to children and young people
The nomination was led by young people, recipients of the Diana Award and participants of its anti-bullying and mentoring programmes who have experienced Tessy’s dedication and skills.
Tessy is a humanitarian and campaigner who has gained an international reputation for advocating and nurturing change for young people.
At the heart of her work is the belief that with the right support and investment, young people are the best instigators for achieving sustainable change in their lives and communities.
She said: "I am humbled by this honour and it feels momentous because it was driven by young people.
"It's an immense privilege to work with children and young people.
"For the past twenty years at The Diana Award I have seen time and time again the life-changing impact we can have on young people by investing in them and empowering them to be a voice to create change."
Order of the British Empire (OBE)
Geraldine Allinson - For services to Local Media in Kent
Geraldine Allinson is being recognised for her contribution to local media having been the chairman of the KM Group for 13 years.
She followed in the footsteps of both her father and grandfather in 2006 before stepping down from the role last October.
"It is very difficult to describe how honoured I feel to receive this recognition," Mrs Allinson said. "Even now I am close to tears thinking about it - I don't think it has really sunk in yet.
"Throughout my career I have been very lucky to work with extremely talented people who genuinely care about what they do and the local communities they serve, particularly here in Kent.
"I really hope that all my colleagues, past and present, see that this honour is recognition for the very rewarding and, at times, extremely difficult work we have all carried out together.
"It is only down to the hard work and dedication of so many people that my name appears in this list alongside such impressive, public-spirited, selfless people. It is truly humbling.
"For over 10 years now the people and companies that provide trustworthy local news to communities up and down the country have been operating in extremely challenging and unprecedented times.
"The way people consume news has changed massively but our need for reliable sources of information, in order to be engaged citizens, has not.
"Everyone working to deliver trustworthy news, whether in newspapers, online, radio or TV needs to be congratulated for their unstinting stamina to reinvent, adapt, innovate, streamline and support each other, particularly in the local news space.
"It has never ceased to amaze me how upbeat, creative and helpful colleagues can be while enduring what can only be described as very challenging circumstances.
"We all know the current situation cannot go on forever, otherwise local news from reliable sources will become extinct. Sustainable solutions need to be found to underpin the provision of reliable and trustworthy local news and I will do what I can to support this endeavour.
"I am incredibly grateful to my family for their unstinting support and understanding for what I do. I also thank everyone else who feels I am worthy of this accolade, particularly those that nominated me. You clearly think I am better at doing what I do than I believe I am!''
Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)
Mr Graeme Lawrie - for services to Education
A father-of-two from Culverstone has been awarded an MBE for his services to the education industry.
Graeme Lawrie has worked in the education industry for 22 years and recently piloted a scheme to supply 30 schools with outreach boxes full of educational equipment.
These boxes would contain items such as virtual reality headsets, microscopes, musical or sports equipment as well as accompanying lesson plans to support teachers.
During the pandemic he raised £8,800 across the ACS family of schools to donate to Magic Breakfast to provide food packages to vulnerable children within the local area.
The 43 year old said: "I am absolutely thrilled with this honour and was very surprised when it arrived out of the blue in the post.
"I am also incredibly touched that someone has taken the time and the effort to nominate me for the work I have done over the last decade and feel incredibly fortunate to have been given these opportunities to make a difference."
"All of this work would not have been possible without the teams around me, the support of the local schools and the multitude of companies, universities and charities that have given their time so freely to offer their guidance, finance and resources.
"My family have also been very patient and supportive with my work and without them behind me none of this would have been possible."
Lee Miller - for services to education
Lee Miller, who is the Deputy CEO of Thinking Schools Academy Trust in Medway , has been awarded an MBE for his services to education.
Mr Miller, who was born in Medway, started working in education in 2009 as a school business manager at The Portsmouth Academy and joined Thinking Schools in 2013 when the school did likewise.
Since then, he and Thinking Schools' Chief Executive, Stuart Gardner, have overseen a period of growth for the trust.
Mr Miller has also been placed by the Department for Education into academy trusts which have fallen into financial difficulty, which he, along with other executives, improved.
He said:"I am incredibly fortunate to work in an organisation that contains so many brilliant, committed people who are driven by a desire to lead improvements to the schools system that will improve outcomes for children and transform their life chances.
"I would like to make special recognition of my team who have been an integral part of the success of this Trust and ultimately allow me the capacity to be in a position to support schools/Trusts that have fallen into difficult times.
"This is very much an honour for every single person who works at Thinking Schools - in particular our Chair of Trustees, Peter Martin, and our Chief Executive, Stuart Gardner, who have established a positive culture that allows excellence to flourish and where we put transforming the life chances at the heart of everything we do."
Dr Hilary Jones - for services to Broadcasting, Public Health Information and Charity
Dr Hilary Jones, who is from Edenbridge, has been a familiar face on the nation's television screens for many years, providing medical advice across a range of media.
Qualifying as a medical doctor at the Royal Free Hospital, London, in 1976, Dr Jones joined the cast of TV-am when the breakfast show launched on ITV in 1989. He has been a regular guest on morning television ever since, has also written for national newspapers, and supports a number of charities.
Reacting to news of the honour, he said: "I feel humbled and delighted in equal measure to be afforded this honour.
"I can only hope that my work in public health broadcasting and in medical practice over the last 40 years is truly worthy of it, in the full awareness that others from many different walks of life are even more deserving than myself.
"I shall continue this work for which I have an enduring passion and will continue to support the various amazing charities in which I am involved."
Tina Butler of the Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) has been awarded an MBE for sourcing personal protection equipment (PPE) for key workers across the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Tina said: “I honestly couldn’t believe that the words I was reading were about me. I had to read it twice for it to sink in. This really is the proudest moment in my career so far.”
Tina’s work to improve firefighting PPE sourcing began before the pandemic but during lockdown she led the National Fire Commercial Transformation Programme (NFCTP) to use its network of members and partners to source gloves, masks and hand sanitiser.
Her team then liaised with fire services across the country after stringent checks on the standards of the equipment.
She added: “I put every ounce of energy that I had into making sure that colleagues on the front line had access to the right level of protection to help keep them safe as they performed their vital public services.
"I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. I have been so very fortunate to have the support of a wonderful and dedicated team around me. Together we managed to engage with more than 420 suppliers to mitigate risks of fake products and potential for modern slavery within the supply chains to ensure resilience in national supply.
"I am truly grateful for this amazing award and recognition. My heartfelt thanks goes out to everyone who supported me and nominated me for this award.”
British Empire Medal (BEM)
Cleo Smith - for services to the community
A mum who worked tirelessly to help vulnerable residents during the coronavirus outbreak is to be given a BEM.
Cleo Smith, who lives in Newington, has worked as Chief Officer of Age UK Hythe and Lyminge for 14 years and was asked by Folkestone and Hythe District Council (FHDC) to "take the lead on supporting vulnerable residents".
Within two days, the mum-of-two had set up a phone line and email address, delivered leaflets to every household in Hythe and then to all the areas supported by the Hythe Hub.
She said: "It was obviously extremely daunting and a scary time for everyone, but we work well with change and we weren't going to back down and let people go unaided."
Combined, Mrs Smith and her team answered almost 4,000 calls, made over 1,600 calls to vulnerable people, made 4,100 GP Welfare calls, delivered 1,200 hot meals as well as carrying out shopping trips, prescription delivery and collection, befriending, general advice and a range of other tasks.
Mrs Smith said that she was "honoured" to receive the award, but said that the praise should not belong to her alone.
She said: "We wouldn't have been able to do anything like what we accomplished without my incredible team, and every single volunteer that willingly gave up their time for nothing to help out the community.
"I would love to give special thanks to so many people that I would definitely forget somebody!"
Julie Dawn Barry - For services to the community in Edenbridge during Covid-19
Julie Dawn Berry, from Edenbridge, has received a BEM for her services to the community during the pandemic.
Before COVID-19, she set up and supports mental health self-help groups, and was a health and lifestyle advice resource at a local youth club.
She helped set up and run a food bank and furniture bank (known as God’s Hands).
With churches being closed and for health reasons, the outlets that once collected the food donations could no longer operate, and food supplies dramatically plummeted.
Her response was to increase the use of other volunteers to share with purchasing food, with a special 'early advance provision' of funds to her, so that she could pay the volunteers back quickly.
She also ensured that there were swift purchases made of hand sanitiser for all the volunteers, disposable gloves and eco-friendly bags for deliveries.
She said: "It is quite overwhelming to be named really and very exciting, but I need to say it was all a group effort, I work in a team and nothing would have been possible without my lovely team."
"I would like to thank Andrea Dicker who is the main help behind the food bank.
"I would also like to extend thanks to the Edenbridge Churches in Covenant for their whole hearted support.
"They are always very encouraging and supporting of me and my work."
Superintendent Jason Wenlock - Services to young people
Superintendent Jason Wenlock has been awarded the British Empire Medal for helping improve the life chances of hundreds of the county’s most vulnerable youngsters by driving the creation of Kent Police's cadet scheme.
Since 2015 it has given more than 600 young people a start on a pathway to a career in the police either as a regular officer, special constable or member of police staff.
Supt Wenlock has also been responsible for the force's volunteer programme, and he volunteers as a Cadet Leader in Dover in his off duty time.
He said: "Our police cadets are nothing short of incredible for the way in which they have grown and adapted to every challenge placed in front of them.
"It has been my privilege to have been worked with them and seen them grow into truly impressive young people with a bright future ahead of them.
"We have already seen many cadets join the force and we have more seeking to apply. We continue to grow and develop the programme and still have over 300 young people waiting to join us from all over the county.
"They are a credit to themselves, their families and the force."
He has also developed an innovative programme that trains volunteer Special Constables to the same standard as full-time officers - with Kent the only police force to offer this.
Supt Wenlock joined Kent Police in August 1997 after 10 years in the Army during which he served in the first Gulf War, Germany, the Falkland Islands, Northern Ireland and Kosovo.
After joining as a constable, he served in uniform local policing roles in Medway, Dover, Canterbury, and Ashford.
He said: "I am completely stunned and delighted with this Honour. I have a job I love doing, in the best police force in the country, with the best leaders, so this award is just incredible on top of all that. I’m really proud of our cadets, and this Honour is as much for them as it is for me."
Chief Officer of the Kent Special Constabulary Gavin McKinnon CF, said: "I am extremely pleased for Supt Wenlock. He has been the driving force behind Kent’s Cadet Program since its inception. He puts passion, enthusiasm, and 24/7 commitment into it.
"He has personally mentored dozens of young people, some of whom are very vulnerable, and helped give them a real chance in life.
"This prestigious award from Her Majesty is fitting recognition of this, and for his lifetime of public service in both the military and Kent Police. His enthusiasm, dedication, and care for the people we serve in Kent is recognised in this fantastic achievement."
Valerie Dyke - For services to the community
When musician and music teacher Valerie Dyke heard she had been nominated for a British Empire Medal, she said she was shocked and surprised.
That was back in May, and the day before the official announcement of the Queen's Birthday Honours this week, she was still getting used to the idea.
"I don't know if other people in New Ash Green have been nominated but I can think of plenty of people I feel should be and are more deserving than I am," said Mrs Dyke, 83, from Punch Croft, New Ash Green. "I go between feeling pleased to feeling a bit embarrassed."
Others might disagree. Honoured for her services to the community, Mrs Dyke left an indelible mark on village life through he establishment of music workshops in the 1970s, which ran for many years and influenced the lives of hundreds of children. Her influence was so great that when she stopped running the groups in 2012, a special concert was held to thank her, and several years on that positive impact is still clearly recognised.
"We held the workshops on Saturday mornings to give children the opportunity to make music together," recalled Mrs Dyke. "It was for a quite a wide age range. In that time when we started in 1975 there wasn't a lot of opportunity in this area. We started out with some orchestral playing, a choir, and recorder groups, and basically it built up from there. We started with 60 young people and it stayed constant as time went on."
"As people's lifestyles changed families were busier on Saturday mornings, and number's diminished until 2012, when it became unviable."
Nevertheless, there's still a group of adults that continue to play in a recorder ensemble to this day, having been inspired by their time at the children's workshops; and Valerie's influence stretches even further than New Ash Green.
Mrs Dyke retired from her position as head of creative arts at Mayfield Grammar in Gravesend in 1998, having helped hundreds more young artists and musicians, and has continued to help young musicians as honorary local representative for the ABRSM - the exam board of the Royal Schools of Music - helping with examinations at New Ash Green pavilion.
She also plays piano at St Peter and St Paul Church in Ash, and since the outbreak of coronavirus her playing at the church has become even more important, providing musical accompaniment in the absence of public singing, and once more proving Valerie's worth to the community.
Queen's Police Medal
Deputy Chief Constable Tony Blaker
Deputy Chief Constable Tony Blaker has been awarded the Queen’s Police Medal, given to officers for meritorious service in keeping the public safe.
He took up the role in June 2018 having previously worked as an Assistant Chief Constable in charge of central operations responsible for crime investigation, public protection and counter-terrorism among other areas.
He joined the force from Sussex Police where he spent the first 26 years of his career and where his last post had been head of operations command with responsibility for firearms, public order, roads and Gatwick Airport.
He also ran complex, large scale operations such as Brighton Pride and the Lewes Bonfire celebrations and was strategic commander for the police response to the 2015 Shoreham air crash.
Mr Blaker said: "Policing is all about teamwork. There is an incredibly professional and hard working team at Kent Police that it has been my privilege to work alongside, serving and protecting the public."
Chief Constable of Kent Police Alan Pughsley QPM said: "I am delighted that the achievements of DCC Blaker and Supt Wenlock (recognised with a BEM) have been recognised in this way; it is testament to their hard work and dedication to the public of Kent.
"They are both talented police officers, representing the very best of this force, and I congratulate them on their fully deserved awards from Her Majesty."
Queen's Fire Service Medal
Former Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) director of operations Sean Bone-Knell has been awarded the Queen’s Fire Service Medal. He retired in March 2020 after 33 years' service.
He said: “I was so surprised and proud when I first found out."
He has also served on the National Fire Chief's Council as marine firefighting lead, road safety lead and dementia lead.
He added: “I have seen many unique moments and incidents which will stay with me for the rest of life alongside some memorable times when major events such as the Tour de France and Olympics needed contingency planning for the county.
"It has also taught me to enjoy every moment as life is so precious. My wife Teresa and my daughters Emily and Lucy have always supported me. This honour could not have been achieved without them.
"They have allowed me to dedicate my career to working with what I see as the best fire and rescue service in the country and protecting the people and communities of Kent and Medway."
Kent Fire and Rescue Service chief executive Ann Millington said: “I’m immensely proud of both Sean and Tina (Butler) and of their commitment to delivering excellence in their work and for their selfless dedication to others. They truly deserve this wonderful recognition.
"Working alongside these two incredibly hard-working people has been an absolute pleasure. They are both hugely respected at KFRS. This honour can only lead to inspire others. I congratulate them both.”
Paul Benedict Crossland Carter, CBE. Formerly chairman, County Councils Network and lately Leader, Kent County Council. For services to Local Government
Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)
Professor Amelia Fletcher, OBE. Formerly Non-Executive Board Member, Financial Conduct Authority and Payment Systems Regulator. For services to the Economy (Cranbrook, Kent)
Nicolette King, OBE. Formerly Chair, Greenacre Academy Trust. For services to Education (Rochester, Kent)
Theresa Ojo. Chief executive, The Diana Award. For services to Young People (Rochester, Kent)
Order of the British Empire (OBE)
Geraldine Allinson. For services to Local Media in Kent
Adrienne Pamela Cherrywood. Founder and Headteacher, Cressey College, Croydon. For services to Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities
Colin Flack. Formerly Chair, Rail Alliance. For services to the Rail Supply Industry
Graham Douglas Ralph. Formerly District Operations manager, Work and Health Directorate, Department for Work and Pensions. For public service
Dr Gideon James Rubin. Assistant director, Health Protection Research Unit for Emergency Preparedness and Response, King's College London. For services to Public Health particularly during Covid-19
John Frank Smith. For services to Music
David William Smith. Deputy director, Border Force, Home Office. For services to EU Exit Preparation and Border Security
Suzanne Nicola Sweeney. Network Lead, London Neonatal Network and Area Chair, Sea Cadets. For services to Neonatal Provision in the NHS and to the Sea Cadets particularly during Covid-19
Sian Elizabeth Thornhill. Director of Education, Harrow International Schools and Lately Executive Principal, Skinners' Kent Academy Trust. For services to Education
Ian Charles Yarnold. Head, International Vehicle Standards, Department for Transport. For services to Transport and Engineering
Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE)
Robin Leslie Apps. For services to the community in the Borough of Tunbridge Well
Tina Butler. Head of Commercial and Procurement, Kent Fire and Rescue Service. For services to the Covid-19 response
Graham Clive Elton. Senior Partner, Bain & Co. For services to the Economy
Ijeoma Nwamaka Ezeilo. Telecommunications, Sky UK. For services to the Telecommunications Industry during Covid-19
Susan Anne Fawcus. Regional Resettlement Co-ordinator, South East Strategic Partnership for Migration. For services to Refugees
Dr Hilary Robert Jones. For services to Broadcasting, Public Health Information and Charity
Anthony Leslie Larsen. For services to Operational Law Enforcement during Covid-19
Professor Margaret Jayne Lawrence. Head, Division of Pharmacy and Optometry, University of Manchester. For services to Pharmaceutical Research
Graeme Allan Lawrie. Partnerships director, ACS International Schools. For services to Education particularly during Covid-19
Sharon Elaine Medhurst. For services to the community in Edenbridge
Rosalind Read-Leah. Founder, Domestic Abuse Charter, Department for Transport. For services to Civil Servants experiencing Domestic Abuse. Sittingbourne.
Vivienne Upfold. Foster Carer, Barnardo's. For services to Children and Families in South East England
British Empire Medal (BEM)
Julie Dawn Barry. For services to the community in Edenbridge, Kent during Covid-19
Alan David Clarke. Founder, The Alchemy Charitable Trust. For services to charity in Sussex and West Kent
Andrew James Dunsmore. Food Services assistant, J Sainsbury's plc. For services to the community during Covid-19
Valerie Dyke. For services to the community in New Ash Green, Kent
Jill Christine Eyre. For services to the community in Edenbridge
Ann Patricia Hannah. Rapid Response Laboratory and Cellular Pathology Operations manager, Health Services Laboratory. For services to Healthcare during Covid-19
Dr Wendy June Madgwick. For charitable services in Deal. Dr Madgwick has requested no publicity.
Cleo Smith. Chief Officer, Age UK Hythe & Lyminge. For services to the community during Covid-19
Jean Carol Sowten. Manager, Sevenoaks Day Nursery. For services to Education
Adam Tallis. Registered General manager, The Kensington Care Home, Bupa. For services to Care Home residents during Covid-19
Nicholas John Tanner. Formerly Lead Nurse for Homelessness, Medway Community Healthcare. For services to Homeless People in London and Medway
Martin John Griffin Tapp. For services to Flood Risk Management in Kent
Jason Wenlock. Chief inspector, Kent Police. For services to Policing and Young People
Queen's Police Medal
Tony Blaker. Deputy chief Constable, Kent Police.
Queen's Fire Service Medal
Sean Julian Bone-Knell. Formerly assistant chief Fire Officer and director Operations, Kent Fire and Rescue Service.