As we reach the end of a year like no other it's time to recognise those who have gone above and beyond.
A children's author, a choreographer and fire fighter are among those to receive a Queen's New Year Honour.
NSPCC Chief Executive Peter Wanless receives a Knighthood
Peter Thomas Wanless, Chief Executive Officer, NSPCC receives a Knighthood for services to Children, to Young People and to the Charitable Sector.
The 56-year-old, who lives near Sevenoaks, has been the nationwide charity's boss since 2013 and previously held a variety of posts at the HM Treasury.
As chief executive of one of the country's best known charity's he has worked to improve the lives of hundreds of children in need.
"It still doesn't feel real," he said. "It hasn't sunk in at all.
"It's a great recognition for the charity. To have wider recognition for the importance of work we do is really excellent.
"Anything which recognises the extraordinary work our charity does is excellent.
"The NSPCC has been going since 1884, so I guess the founder of the charity would be quite shocked to discover we are still needing to battle away on issues of child abuse and neglect."
Anthony Browne receives a CBE for services to Literature.
The Canterbury author - a former Children’s Laureate - has written or illustrated more than 50 books.
His best known work is the 1983 book, Gorilla, which has previously been recognised with a number of awards.
Distributed across the world, his illustrations are instantly recognisable. In 2000, Browne became the first British author to be awarded the Hans Christian Andersen Medal.
Kevin Michael Aitchison, from Eynsford, is to be honoured for services to wheelchair rugby and people with disabilities.
The 54-year-old served as chair of the Great Britain Wheelchair Rugby board, the national governing body for the sport, from 2010 before stepping down in September.
Reacting to his recognition in the New Years Honours Kevin said: "It is a bit surreal really. It is one of those things where, if I am honest with you, I'm feeling really happy but I think there are so many people who do so much more..."
Kevin adds he has always considered his role just be one part of a big group effort with "supportive people" but is delighted to be acknowledged.
The chairman has experienced plenty of highs and lows in his time supporting the game up until now.
"After Rio [Paralympics] we lost our elite level funding," he said, a move he described as "heartbreaking" to take after seeing the strides the sport had taken since London 2012.
Despite this hardship he says it led to one of his biggest personal achievements which he says has been overseeing the growth of the grassroots game.
He hopes the sport will return again soon following the lockdown, adding "For a lot of people who play it, it is their life, it is their friendship group, and it is their normality."
Rajinder Tumber, from Belvedere in Bexley, has been awarded an MBE for his services to the cyber security industry.
The IT manager and businessman has more than a decade of experience in the field and counts the Cabinet Office, Home Office, and Foreign & Commonwealth Office, and Heathrow Airport, among his long list of clients.
But outside of his digital work Rajinder is also a keen poet and in 2017, he broke a century-old world record, for writing the world’s longest love poem, “Divine Verse”.
Rajinder says he was at home working on his poetry when he received an email, which professed to be from the Cabinet Office and said the Prime Minister wanted to put his name forward to the Queen for an MBE.
"I thought it was a wind-up! I phoned the Cabinet Office to double-check, and they said Yes, the email is legitimate," he said.
"So, then I thought…I’m being asked if I would like to receive an MBE? Of course I would!"
It means a lot for Rajinder who says he hit "rock-bottom in life" just a few years ago when he was unemployed and nearly died after contracting meningitis.
"To go from there, to where I am today - with an MBE from the Queen. The MBE serves as a symbol, that if you fight for your life, innovate and help others, your life will become more enlightened, and your efforts will be recognised and rewarded."
He added: "It’s an absolute honour to be awarded an MBE from Her Majesty the Queen. Today, we live in a mobile, connected world.
"Being awarded the MBE indicates that cyber security is increasingly being recognised as an essential area, and I am proud to represent the industry."
Laura Claire Bounds' MBE is in recognition of her work done through the firm she owns, Kent Crisps of Bridge near Canterbury.
The snack firm's flavours are made using real Kent produce such as Ashmore cheese from Canterbury and Biddenden cider.
The packets feature county landscapes and landmarks such as Leeds Castle, Canterbury Cathedral and the Turner Contemporary in Margate.
Since taking over Kent Crisps in 2017, Ms Bounds has been the driving force behind growing the business, with a focus on export.
It now supplies international airlines, trains and ferry services and10 markets across the globe such as Germany, America and Asia.
Mrs Bounds, 34, owns multiple Kent businesses alongside Kent Crisps, including brands Kentish Oils and A Little Bit Food Co.
She is also an Export Champion for the Department of International Trade, Kent Ambassador and a mentor for the Kent Business School at the University of Kent.
Mrs Bounds said: “To have been awarded an MBE is an absolute privilege, especially when it relates to the work done for a county that I am so proud to be a part of.
"Kent Crisps is made up of a small but extremely passionate team, without whom I would not have had this opportunity.
"I hope that this proves to others that we all can make a difference, and that with hard work and determination, anything is possible.”
Mrs Bounds attended secondary school in Canterbury and then Canterbury College where she graduated with an HND.
She then completed a BA in public service management at the University of Worcester, shortly followed by graduating with a Masters Degree in Sociology.
She joined Kent Crisps initially within a sales development role, quickly progressed to commercial director and was in a management buyout in 2017.
Kent Crisps is one of the few snack brands in the UK which has remained independently owned and is one of few, if any, which is solely female-led.
Mrs Bounds has won a number of awards in recent years, including Business Woman of the Year at the Kent Women in Business Awards, with Kent Crisps also winning multiple awards.
Bethan Eaton-Haskins. Director of Quality and Chief Nurse, South East Coast Ambulance Service is honoured for services to Nursing, particularly during Covid-19.
Bethan, from Sevenoaks, joined SECAmb three years ago following a range of other roles in a career spanning more than 20 years.
She has led the Trust’s Covid-19 response since the start of the year and was formally appointed as SECAmb’s Covid Director alongside her Director of Quality and Nursing role.
Eunice Norman, of Fairview Avenue, in Wigmore, is the chairman of Hospital Radio Medway, and has served for the station since 1973, just after it launched in 1970 - she is rewarded for services to the community.
The 73-year-old has gone above and beyond this year to help fundraise for the organisation in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
To continue to bring a smile to patients on the wards, Eunice and the team behind the show have been broadcasting from home during the pandemic, rather than their usual studio in the basement of Medway Maritime Hospital.
She said: "It was totally unexpected. It's nice to be offered that recognition, you don't do it for an award when you start doing these things, you just do it because you enjoy doing it.
"I haven't done it on my own, the support from the rest of team, and the league of friends, has been amazing.
"Everyone just wants to get back in and carry on doing the programmes that we love doing."
Gravesend-born David Pearson has been awarded an MBE for services to helping vulnerable people in the UK.
The 75-year-old was a central figure in the creation of the Swanley-based safeguarding charity Thirtyone:eight which he helped set up from scratch and at one point ran from a caravan on his driveway.
Over the last 40 years it has grown to become the largest independent faith-based safeguarding charity in the UK with a team of over 50 people and more than 10,000 network organisations.
Despite leaving school at 14 with no formal qualifications the Swanley resident worked his way up to become an area social service manager.
In his time with the Christian charity, David has represented the interests of children in court proceedings, contributed to numerous pieces of national safeguarding guidance and even advised the Laming Inquiry into the death of eight-year-old Victoria Climbie in 2002.
On accepting his MBE, David said “I am honoured to accept this award on behalf of the exceptional people from whom I have learnt so much - survivors of abuse who bravely shared their pain; the untiring efforts of leaders and workers with children and adults in churches and organisations; my colleagues over four decades since I birthed the charity; to my family who have stood and worked with me throughout and with thankfulness, above all else, to God.”
The timing of Colin Smith's honour from The Queen couldn't have been more perfect.
News that the prolific fundraiser was being made a Member of the British Empire (MBE) came as his tally for winning grants for charities reached a staggering 100.
It also came as the civil servant, prepared to lay to rest his brother, Deal's self-proclaimed 'celebrity' Dave Smith, to whom the 57-year-old attributes his fondest fundraising memory and touchingly dedicates his award.
He also dedicates it to the inspirational local charities he calls his "constants" - mental health support group Talk it Out, The History Project in Deal and Dover Operatic and Dramatic Society (DODS).
Mr Smith, who lives in Eythorne, said: "When I got news of the award, I was shocked and very humbled by it.
"I wanted to thank my wife Jackie and son Daniel for putting up with me banging on about grants and events all the time for the past 16 years."
Over that time his grant securing achievements have helped local, national and international organisations to the tune of £409,000 - £35,000 of that came from events and the rest comes from exactly 100 grants.
He recalled: "I started off helping football club Eythorne Rovers FC. I got them a couple of grants from Dover District Council which was administering a Bridging the Gap grant.
"We got £900 for coaches so we could travel to Whitstable with a group of players and fans, and £3,000 to take them to the David Beckham Academy in London."
From there Mr Smith began helping cricket clubs too. Following regular articles in a football magazine about his fundraising exploits, he was contacted by a man in West Sussex, which led to him helping Bosham FC and another club in Wales.
Internationally he helped Love Light Romania between 2014-16 and secured a £5,000 grant from the Allan & Nesta Ferguson charitable trust. The money from which enabled the charity to purchase a building for £3,000 and the remaining £2,000 was used to renovate it and make it into a working school.
Nationally he has worked with the Katie Piper Foundation, having been so inspired by the model's determination to help others after her face was disfigured in a malicious acid attack.
The former Parochial, Warden House and Deal Sec pupil has helped Age Concern Sandwich more recently, and from 2015-17 he supported the Deal, Walmer Communiy Association that runs the Landmark Centre. That period saw him hold an event and large raffle which collected £2,000 for the High Street building.
He said: "It's all voluntary. It gives me relief from the job I do as a civil servant."
Mr Smith has successfully nominated three people for MBEs and two others for BEMs. He understands the time and commitment it takes to applying for the honours and humbly said: "That's why I'm shocked, this is the kind of thing I do. I wouldn't have expected anyone would ever do that for me."
His best fundraising memory came in April 2018 and he fondly attributes that to his brother Dave, a popular and well connected builder.
He said: "David supported me, it was his idea to apply for a grant for little Ellice Barr a little girl from Deal who has cerebral palsy.
"David said to me one day that she needed £65,000 for an operation on her legs at Great Ormond Street, London.
"Her father Joe was putting a campaign together to raise the money. At the time he had quite a lot of support from the Rotary Club and he had put on events.
"Dave said 'Is there any way you can get a grant towards it?' I said I'd look into it.
"I applied for £500 from Kent Community Foundation, administrator for 6,000 funders, because they said to me 'that's the most you'll get' so I filled in the form.
"Her dad was holding a big event and the day before it happened, I contacted Kent Community Foundation to ask whether we got the £500.
"I thought if I was successful, I'd be able to announce it on the night.
"They came back to me and said: 'Are you sitting down? Unfortunately, the application for £500 was unsuccessful, but instead we've got £10,000 for Ellice'.
"We presented the cheque and Ellice was so excited because she'd just learnt to write her name and she could see her name on the cheque.
"It's my greatest memory and it all came from an off-the-cuff chat with David."
You would think Covid has put a halt to his benevolent pastime. But Conversely 2020 has been his best year for fundraising yet.
He has been awarded 17 grants where money has been made available by grant-giving bodies to keep organisations afloat during the pandemic.
His words of advice are: "don't stop at the first hurdle." This is proven by his tenacity in querying the grounds of a grant knock-back earlier this year. He checked it out with Dover District Council and later that same day he got the okay for a £10,000 cash boost for Dover Operatic and Dramatic Society.
So with 100 successes under his belt will he be stopping any time soon?
Not a chance. He said: "I've already got two more grants 'in the wood' that I'm waiting to get answers back from."
Justine Norris, an Occupational therapist from Deal, will receive an MBE for her contribution to mental health services, in particular during Covid-19.
On the first night of lockdown in March, Justine recognised that the government restrictions would have a considerable negative impact on mental health service users in Kent and Medway.
She swiftly pulled together a range of resources to be shared across Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT) to support patients who needed to stay at home or whose community programmes had to temporarily stop because of the restrictions.
Included are tips covering diet, routine, activity and staying connected. Sections also include mood, anxiety management, stress relief, sleep and exercise.
The resource pack was quickly recognised as an essential tool that would benefit a wide range of people and after being shared on social media, requests for permission to use the pack flooded in from around the world.
So far Justine has received more than 500 requests to use the documents from countries including Bangladesh, Canada, Hawaii, USA, Australia, Hong Kong, France and Spain.
Chief Executive Helen Greatorex said: “We could not be more proud of Justine. She has made an enormously positive difference to the people who use our services, to her colleagues and now to others around the world. She is a shining example of outstanding practice in mental health and the accolade of an MBE is rightful recognition of her exceptional contribution.”
Justine's daughter will soon be following in her footsteps, beginning training as an Occupational Therapist at university in September 2021.
Also awarded with an MBE was Deal Border Force officer Gary Neeve for services to border security.
He said: "I am both delighted and surprised to be nominated and accepted to receive this honour.
"For many years I have been involved in the training of law enforcement officers from the UK and also from and in overseas locations towards a common goal of border security in customs matters.
" This means that I have worked with many dedicated professionals and high ranking officials at all levels from many countries from which I have tried to develop our own national training.
"It has been a privilege to work alongside these officials and to be continually involved."
Deal choreographer Dr Stuart Hopps is to be presented with an OBE for services to dance.
He has worked for dance companies, theatre, opera and film.
The most famous work he was involved in was the 1973 horror movie The Wicker Man.
Dr Hopps also helped set up a choreographers' committee for the performing arts trade union Equity.
In addition he set up the first honours degree in choreography at the Trinity Laban music and dance school in Greenwich, London.
He said: "I am absolutely thrilled to receive an OBE."
Dr Stephen John Deuchar CBE. Lately Director, Art Fund. For services to Art. (Westwell, Kent)
Peter Thomas Wanless CB. Chief Executive Officer, NSPCC. For services to Children, to Young People and to the Charitable Sector. (Sevenoaks, Kent)
ORDER OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE
Commanders of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)
Anthony Edward Tudor Browne. Children's Author and Illustrator. For services to Literature. (Canterbury, Kent)
Sonia Flynn. Chief Probation Officer, National Probation Service. For public service. (Rochester, Kent)
Christopher John Woolard. Lately Interim Chief Executive, Financial Conduct Authority. For services to Financial Regulation and Financial Technology Innovation. (Otford, Kent)
Officers of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)
Vivienne Artz. Chief Privacy Officer, Refinitiv and President, Women in Banking and Finance. For services to Financial Services and to Gender Diversity. (Headcorn, Kent)
Dr Malcolm Butler. Chair, UK Onshore Geophysical Library. For services to Education, to Research and to Development. (Paddock Wood, Kent)
Mark Edward Cheeseman. Deputy Director, Public Sector Fraud, Cabinet Office. For public service. (Sevenoaks, Kent)
Barbara Collins. Head, Women in Leadership, Government Equalities Office. For services to Gender Equality. (Gravesend, Kent)
Tanjit Singh Dosanjh. Founder and Chief Executive Officer, The Prison Opticians Trust. For services to Optometry in Prisons and Reducing Re-Offending. (Rochester, Kent)
Dr Stuart Gary Hopps. Choreographer. For services to Dance. (Deal, Kent)
David Roydon Nightingale. Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor, University of Kent. For services to Higher Education. (Canterbury, Kent)
Tracey Lynne Reed. Lately Director, Historic Properties, English Heritage. For services to Cultural Heritage. (Deal, Kent)
Matthew John Stutely. Director of Software Engineering, Parliamentary Digital Service. For services to Parliament during Covid-19. (Rochester, Kent)
Claudia Claire Sykes. Chief Executive Officer, Social Enterprise Kent and All Seasons Community Support. For services to Social Enterprise and to the Social Care Sector. (Whitstable, Kent)
Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)
Kevin Michael Aitchison. For services to Wheelchair Rugby and to People with Disabilities. (Eynsford, Kent)
Alison Judith Bailey Castellina. Technical Standards Lead, Heat Networks, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. For services to Consumer Protection and to Diversity and Inclusion. (Tunbridge Wells, Kent)
Laura Claire Bounds. Managing Director, Kent Crisps. For services to International Trade. (Woodnesborough, Kent)
Jane Susan Comeau. Chair of the Board, Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years, Kent. For services to Education. (Tunbridge Wells, Kent)
Eleanor Jill Constantine. Director, Arts Council Collection. For services to the Arts. (Sevenoaks, Kent)
Bethan Eaton-Haskins. Director, Quality and Chief Nurse, South East Coast Ambulance Service. For services to Nursing, particularly during Covid-19. (Sevenoaks, Kent)
Gary Neeve. Officer, Border Force, Home Office. For services to Border Security. (Deal, Kent)
Eunice Margery Norman. For services to the community in Gillingham, Kent. (Gillingham, Kent)
Justine Patricia Norris. Community Mental Health Occupational Therapist, Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust. For services to the NHS during Covid-19. (Deal, Kent)
David Frederick Pearson. Lately Trustee and Company Secretary and Founder, Thirtyone:eight. For services to Safeguarding the Vulnerable. (Swanley, Kent)
Martin George Pilgrim. Trustee and Treasurer, Young Women's Trust. For services to Disadvantaged Children and Young People. (Canterbury, Kent)
Colin Smith. For services to Charitable Fundraising in Dover, Kent. (Dover, Kent)
Alexander Robert Taylor. Assistant Director, Readiness and Response, Civil Contingencies Secretariat, Cabinet Office. For public service. (Tunbridge Wells, Kent)
Medallists of the Order of the British Empire (BEM)
Harry Mario Aquilina. Firefighter, London Fire Brigade. For services to the community in London during the Covid-19 Response. (Edenbridge, Kent)
Ann Mary Ball. For services to the community in Shoreham, Kent. (Sevenoaks, Kent)
Richard Carley. For services to the community in Woodchurch, Kent. (Woodchurch, Kent)
Alan Trevor Emby. For services to the community in Broadstairs, Kent. (Broadstairs, Kent)
Neil Ferries. For services to the community in Wakefield, West Yorkshire during the Covid-19 Response. (Sittingbourne, Kent)
Dr Aminur Khosru Rahman. Chair, Kent Area Committee, Institution of Mechanical Engineers. For services to Education. (Chatham, Kent)
Margaret Angela Russell. For services to the community in Rochester, Kent. (Chatham, Kent)