Published: 22:30, 31 December 2021
| Updated: 11:59, 03 January 2022
Three Kent sport stars are among the people recognised in the Queen's New Year Honours.
US Open champion Emma Raducanu and gold medallist Olympians Joseph Choong and Katherine French are all receiving a Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for their tennis and pentathlon wins.
Tennis player Raducanu receives an MBE following her incredible US Open win.
The 19-year-old from Bromley, won her first-ever Grand Slam in New York - without dropping a set in the entire tournament.
Emma beat Canadian, Leylah Fernandez, 6-4, 6-3 in the women's singles, and as a result was named the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
She was also voted Women's Tennis Association Newcomer of the Year.
Emma was the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam at the US Open, where she did not drop a set throughout all 10 of her matches.
And, after making her Grand Slam debut at Wimbledon, she became the youngest British woman to reach the stage at the All-England Club.
Olympic gold medallist Kate French receives an MBE following her success at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Kate also won the Special Achievement Award at the Gravesham Civic Awards as recognition for her outstanding contribution to the borough.
She receives the MBE for her services to modern pentathlon.
Olympic gold medallist Joe Choong also receives an MBE following his success at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
He too receives the MBE for his services to modern pentathlon.
But it isn't just sporting celebrities who have been recognised in the Queen's New Year Honours.
A pastor, teacher, volunteer and lecturer are among those who have been awarded for their hard work in Kent.
Medallists of the Order of the British Empire
Pamela Tolhurst BEM
Pastor and local church leader Pam Tolhurst has received a BEM for her services to the community in Gillingham.
The 71-year-old, from Sevenoaks, has served in an unpaid capacity as the pastor and local church leader of Gillingham United Reformed Church in the Medway area since 2004.
Under her leadership the church's contacts with the local community have grown, and she has helped the church change from being an ethnically white church to one that fully embraces worshippers from many ethnicities, thus reflecting much more fully the community context.
The North Gillingham Church Leaders Fellowship meets every six to eight weeks to encourage and help the local churches work together more effectively, and be active together in the community.
As well as this role she is also the Lay Leader at the Gillingham United Reformed Church, enabling the church to play a full part in the life of the community.
She has often welcomed the Fraternal to her church on many occasions. They participate in all the joint initiatives that the churches organise in Gillingham.
Since her time at Gillingham URC she has formed close ties with the local club for people who are deaf and/or blind visiting and carrying out services of worship.
She visits care homes on a regular basis and again leads the residents in worship.
Pam has become unpaid Chaplain to the Shrubbery and Kent Resettlement (which is under the umbrella of Langley House Trust), which is a national charity for ex-offenders or those who are likely to offend both male and female and she gives unbelievable support to the residents and staff alike.
Recently, she has become a Secretary on the executive of the Churches Together in Medway, which is an umbrella organisation for all the Christian churches in the unitary authority of Medway.
Pam said: "I found out about it three to four weeks ago when I got a letter from the cabinet office.
"I opened it and was absolutely amazed, and I'm still amazed.
"I thought about it for a long while and I felt it was right to accept it because I don't know where the nomination came from and I know a huge amount of work goes into these things."
Speaking of what inspired her to take up her work she explained that God called her.
She said: "It was simply a calling from god. I've been a Christian since my late teens and I've grown up through the church."
Pam believed the church continued to play an important role in the community, she added: "I would describe it as enormously important.
"I see my role as to share the gospel message with everybody I come into contact with, simply by being the person I am and being a witness.
"Here in Gillingham there's an enormous support and unity among the churches.
"It's because of our bonding and fellowship that we are able to declare to people in Gillingham that God loves them and we love them too.
"The Christian witness is about prayer and action going hand in hand.
"I don't know why people wanted to put me forward but I'm very thankful for them. I couldn't believe it and I don't think I will believe it but I'm just thankful."
Liesje Athwal BEM
Volunteer Liesje Athwal has received a BEM, for her services to the community in Tonbridge, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The 53-year-old independently created a programme named ‘FEAST- Families Eating and Sharing Together’.
She organised volunteers, collected donations and groceries from the church and local organisations and contacted local families to advertise the initiative.
The programme meant that once a week during the school holidays, families could come to a local church and have a free healthy meal.
Liesje expanded FEAST by contacting other local churches to join the programme.
Eventually, families were able to have a free meal everyday during the holidays at different local venues within Tonbridge.
When COVID-19 hit, she adapted the scheme and set up a food bank and delivered food weekly to at least 60 of FEAST’s families.
During the pandemic, she identified struggling families who had not been in contact with the programme due to isolation and fear.
She handmade and delivered 120 portions of Shepherd’s Pie for these families.
"We built the charity up from nothing. Nobody gets paid, everyone's a volunteer and I'm really, really, really proud of everything that we've done."
As the lockdown eased, the foodbank developed into a food larder.
Families could pay £2 and shop for food that supermarkets, such as Marks and Spencers and Asda, would usually throw away.
FEAST has now opened two food larders with plans for a third to open in the future.
When asked how she felt about receiving the recognition, Liesje said she is receiving it on behalf of all her volunteers and not just herself.
She said: "It's fantastic. I'm really proud of everything that we've done.
"We built the charity up from nothing. Nobody gets paid, everyone's a volunteer and I'm really, really, really proud of everything that we've done."
Liesje also explained the transformations her charity had to go through, especially during the pandemic.
She added: "We’re a food poverty charity. We started about three and a half years ago, providing meals for families during school holidays, who would otherwise get free school meals.
"When Covid hit, we first changed ourselves into a food bank and now a community larder.
"We run it twice a week in Tonbridge and it just allowed us to get to know hundreds of households in our area that need a little bit of help and support and it's just amazing to be able to do that.
"Over Christmas we sent out 120 turkeys and presents for about 50 children and also sent parcels, gifts and food to some refugee families.
"So, it's just a real honour to be able to do it. We love it."
The original inspiration for FEAST was a very from a good friend of Liesje called Carol.
She had two boys with huge appetites and explained to Liesje how hard it was in the holidays trying to find extra dinners when she had no extra money.
Liesje said: "That really got me thinking about how hard it was for people on free school meals so that was the beginning of FEAST. So it was all down to my wonderful friend Carol."
When she received a letter with the news a few weeks ago, Liesje said she felt odd at first, as she is not used to be in the limelight. But at the same time she felt immensely proud of her charity
She finished: "I thought that the right thing to do was to accept it on behalf of everybody that works at the charity. It will be good for us to get that recognition."
Dr Darren Smart BEM
A trustee of Sheppey Matters in Sheerness has received a BEM for his services to public libraries.
Darren, a chartered librarian who has been working in public libraries for more than 10 years, is now strategic manager (operations) of libraries, registrations and archives with Kent County Council.
He has widely written, presented and commented on public libraries and their future in the digital age.
Member of the British Empire
David Sharp MBE
David Sharp, station manager at Academy FM in Folkestone, is receiving an MBE for his services to broadcasting and to education.
David runs the educational charity and community radio station at the Folkestone Academy school, which has won 10 national awards for its work.
The 50-year-old said: "It's fantastic for Academy FM to be recognised in this way, and to know that the scope of our work with young people is understood.
"It wouldn't have happened without my wife Helen, who works on our educational projects, and also Brian Hodgson from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop who gave me the opportunity to follow my own path in my youth."
David kept the station running during lockdown, initially working long hours from home, to produce a Virus Update Daily Podcast.
While schools were closed he also quickly recognised the vulnerability of some disadvantaged pupils and developed specific engagement programmes to boost their confidence and self-esteem and keep them motivated during a challenging time.
Martyn Styles MBE
A retired teacher has been awarded an MBE for his services to junior and youth sailing.
Martyn Styles from Walmer, whose son, Hugh, went on to have international success in the sport has helped hundreds of youngsters discover a passion for on the water.
For more than four decades the 75-year-old has given up his spare time to coach people and organising events at Downs Sailing Club.
This has been with the Kent Schools Sailing Association (KSSA) and at national level with the National School Sailing Association (NSSA).
He started the Kent Schools youth race training and ran Centres of Excellence at Bewl Water for almost 10 years in the 1980s; events which saw up to 45 dinghy sailors between the ages of eight and 19 develop their skills.
From this, he went on to develop a Hi-Flyers Programme and for many years, with a group of like minded individuals, would take groups of aspiring dinghy racers to the National Sailing Centre on the Isle of Wight for a week’s training.
This he later developed into a national Hi-Flyers Programme for the National Schools Sailing Association (NSSA).
These training programmes were the precursor of today’s Royal Yachting Association (RYA) Youth Programme.
David said: "Sailing has had quite an impact on my life and I've seen it have an impact on many young people's lives.
"It's great to see young people achieve and become independent through the sport."
On receiving the award, he said: "It was quite a surprise. I'm just one of the gang. There are a lot of people that make equal contributions so I'm not sure why I've been singled out, but it's an honour."
Jeremy Rook MBE
The head Business Assurance from H.M. Prison Elmley is receiving a MBE for his services to Reducing Reoffending
Known as Joe, the 57-year-old from Sheerness is an ambassador both for HM Prison and Probation Service and the prisoners in his care, having set up with others numerous creative initiatives to maximise prisoners’ rehabilitation prior to and after release, reducing reoffending.
He spearheaded an innovative project between Canterbury College and HMP Standford Hill to provide technical training on computer networking.
This included the creation of a new satellite site located outside the prison, which offered courses both to serving prisoners and to the local community.
As a result of this project over 200 prisoners were successful in gaining IT qualifications, the college received an Adult Learner Award and the collaboration was shortlisted for a Times Educational Supplement Award.
He then persuaded the college to expand the project to include plumbing and electricians’ courses, funded through a ground-breaking loan scheme which he brokered.
Through this project the college now offers up to Level 4 qualifications and awards approximately 650 technical qualifications each year.
He created an Offender Training Programme in conjunction with a local training provider, focussing on prisoners at particular risk of reoffending on release.
In its first year the project enabled 43 men to be offered training that led to permanent full-time employment on release.
He was involved in setting up and is a board member of the Kent Rapid Rehousing Pathway Project (now called Preventing Rough Sleeping after Custody), facilitating joint working with local authorities and housing services across Kent.
This included the creation of Prison Navigator roles within Kent prisons, working directly with prisoners prior to release.
He said: "I joined the prison service in 1988, which seems a very long time ago. Reducing re-offending is absolutely key to the work that we do.
"I have been fortunate in having really good managers and a really good team who have helped me so much in what I've been trying to do.
"I feel very humbled to be given this award, but it's really a team effort.
"My wife Lissa also works in the prison service and she is absolutely ecstatic over it."
Kevin Dickens MBE
The director of resources at The Abbey School in Faversham is receiving an MBE for his services to education.
For 39 years Kevin Dickens has been a role model in each of his posts at The Abbey School, and has recently been recognised by a certificate for Lifetime Achievement from the Pearson National Teaching Awards.
Starting out as a music teacher, the 61-year-old from Whitstable, was soon to become the school SEN co-ordinator where he showed a deep understanding of pupils’ diverse needs and a desire to ensure all can reach their potential.
His inspiring teaching, differentiated care and pastoral support for the relatively high proportion of SEN pupils at the school is cited by pupils, teachers and parents.
As deputy headteacher, he was the Chief Financial Officer responsible for managing the school budget, leading a £4.6 million construction project to develop the school site and directed the technical side of the school’s conversion to academy status.
He has also provided exceptional support mentoring NQTs as well as new members of the governing body and it is during his time as deputy teacher, the school received Good Ofsted reports.
Whilst the headteacher isolated, he led the school during the first weeks of uncertainty, taking on extra leadership and welfare roles; maintaining strong communication links with pupils, staff and the local authority.
He said: “To be honest, when I opened the letter I was quite shocked and amazed that I could actually achieve such an award."
“Now that it has sunk in, I have been able to reflect on my time at The Abbey School and what working here in Faversham has meant to me personally.
“In September 2022, I shall have been at the school for 40 years, and throughout all that time I have had the privilege of working with the most amazing young people.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know all the families and seeing their children progress in life, many of whom now have their own children at the school.”
For 350 children reliant on free school meals, he personally purchased and delivered supermarket vouchers before the Edenred system went live.
Once live, he worked night and day to help eligible families navigate the system, even printing and posting the vouchers for families lacking the necessary means. Did this during the Co
He swiftly produced provisional education plans and staffing rotas to ensure education for SEN pupils and key-worker pupils continued, as well as the wider site changes needed to provide new washing and hygiene facilities.
Kevin finished: "I am delighted to receive this honour and, for me, it is really a reflection of all those working in schools - teachers, support staff and leadership teams - across the UK, who demonstrate great commitment and dedication on a daily basis to improve the life chances of all the children in their care.
“I would like to thank all the people involved in my nomination - colleagues, governors, parents and ex-students - as this means such a lot to me.
“When I retired from teaching just over a year ago, I received so many heart-warming messages from ex-students, many of whom I had not seen for such a long time.
“For me, teaching has been a real joy and I count myself lucky to have so many fond memories of my time at The Abbey School.”
He semi-retired in late 2020 but continues to work with the school senior leadership team and is heavily involved in the development of a new performing arts theatre and studio.
Kevin also continues to mentor a number of GCSE maths pupils whose learning was disrupted by the pandemic.
Abbey School headteacher Rowland Speller said: “Kevins' role at The Abbey School since its inception in the early 80’s has been pivotal.
"He is regarded as a figure of trust in the local community, having taught multiple generations of local families.
“During his consistent and extraordinary service, he has never sought personal attention and on multiple occasions has allowed others to take the limelight for initiatives and improvements that were driven by him.
“Kevin, undoubtedly, deserves recognition for the service he has provided to the people of Faversham for decades.”
Rob Perks MBE
The lead curator of oral history and director of National Life Stories at the British Library is receining an MBE for his services to Libraries, National Archives and Oral History, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Rob Perks, from Sevenoaks, displayed leadership in the formation and delivery of a multi-format collecting programme to archive the national experience of Covid-19.
His team routinely gathers oral testimony on key research themes to be archived for future use by researchers.
Over the past two years, this has included a project working with the University of Manchester to archive over 2,000 interviews with NHS patients, professionals and policymakers to capture their experiences at an unprecedented moment in the history of the NHS.
The programme is archiving a large sample of broadcasts from television and radio (including Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland), as well as major UK televised news, specials, and world coverage of the pandemic.
The programme also includes UK Web Archiving, with over 6,500 identified target sites about Covid-19, collections of literary and creative audio and visual performances, and research outputs such as a project about children’s experience of play during lockdown.
The programme is continuing to collect and add to this new research collection, which will play a major role in supporting society to understand and draw insight from the experience of this pandemic.
The 63-year-old has been a committed public servant for over 33 years and a leading figure in UK sound heritage and oral history since becoming Lead Curator of Oral History at the British Library in 1988.
Since 1996, he has also been Director of National Life Stories and has made an immeasurable contribution including co-ordinating the Library’s archiving partnership with BBC Radio for the Millennium Memory Bank and Radio 4’s ‘The Listening Project’.
He also sits on the project board for the Library’s national audio digitisation initiative ‘Unlocking Our Sound Heritage’.
Rob's wider contribution extends beyond the Library as he has acted as an Advisor to the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Centre for Life History Research at the University of Sussex, and oral history projects and organisations all over the world.
He is also Secretary and Editor of the Oral History Society and has previously served as a Council Member of the International Oral History Association, as a Board member of the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council South East, and as Visiting Professor at the University of Huddersfield between 2008-11.
Thomas Cookson MBE
The chairman of Physics Partners has received an MBE for services to Education
Thomas, 79, served 13 years in education and retired from Head of King Edward V1 school to start his own education charity.
The charity, which focused on helping teachers and technicians, to enable more pupils with scientific aptitude to achieve their potential initially, later became Physics Partners which specialised in Physics Partners hubs, where groups of schools can share resources and benefit from specialist training and mentoring.
In 2007, the Wrotham resident, set up an educational charity called S3 (success in short subjects).
In 2015 this became ‘Physics Partners.’ As the charity's work expanded, he filled the role of unpaid chief executive until 2019.
He remains as Chairman of the charity and led Physics Partners to expand from supporting 10 schools to 140 in a decade.
Thomas shaped the charity and developed it to provide support to teachers to ensure high quality teaching of STEM subjects with very limited funding.
He created the Physics Partners website to help teachers plan practical physics lessons.
He designed a training programme using experienced, successful ex heads of physics to train others and to support growth and confidence in physics teachers. This programme is free of charge to schools.
Training is now operated from eight regional hubs covering all areas of England.
He galvanised the Girls Schools Association to support the programme for persuading more girls in state schools to study A level physics and to date 67 schools have taken part.
Thomas said: "When I received the letter I was extremely pleased because it is a terrific compliment to the charity.
I wouldn't have gotten the award if it hadn't been for the fact that the charity is working very well.
"I feel like most people who receive national honours, that they couldn’t have got them without the help of a load of other people."
Thomas made sure to emphasize the hard work and support of other institutions who helped him achieve this recognition.
He finished : "I would just like to make a special mention to the Institute of Physics and a large number of independent schools have helped us enormously in teaching teachers who otherwise, wouldn’t know physics very much."
Dr Nick Woznitza MBE
A senior lecturer in the School of Allied and Public Health Professions and Canterbury Christ Church University has been awarded an MBE for his clinical and academic leadership skills in diagnostic radiography in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Over the last 18 months Dr Nick Woznitza has engaged in research to improve preliminarily evaluation of chest imaging to support the rapid diagnosis of Covid-19, as well as keeping fellow radiographers both here in the UK and internationally updated with evidence to inform their work with Covid-19 patients.
He was also appointed as an expert advisor for diagnostic radiography services within the NHS Nightingale Hospital London, the first of the temporary hospitals set up by NHS England for the Covid-19 pandemic.
This appointment acknowledged his leadership skills and professional credibility for the development of safe and effective services at pace.
In addition to supporting radiographers and health services, Dr Woznitza has used his experience to inspire current and future radiography students through mentorship, career advice and masterclasses, ensuring his work resonates with students and inspire new generations into the profession.
Professor Rama Thirunamachandran, Vice-Chancellor at Canterbury Christ Church University, said: “We are delighted that Dr Nick Woznitza has been recognised for his dedication and commitment to the NHS with this award. "Throughout the pandemic Nick refocused his work to support fellow radiographers and patients.
"His development of new diagnostic radiography services for the safe and effective diagnosis of Covid-19 and his leadership skills at the NHS Nightingale Hospital London have shown him to be an inspiration to current and future radiographers.”
Speaking of his recognition, Dr Woznitza said: "I am shocked, amazed and humbled that I have been recognised in the New Year Honours List for services to radiography.
"I have been fortunate beyond words to have had the support and mentorship from so many people, in particular Dr Keith Piper, Professor Audrey Paterson, Professor Kate Springett and Professor Chris Burton who have guided and shaped my career both as an academic and a clinician.
"Our research has shown that patient care can be improved by radiographer reporting, and I look forward to continuing this exciting work at Canterbury Christ Church."
Commanders of the Order of the British Empire
Sue Nelson CBE
The current chair of local food and drink champions Produced in Kent has been awarded a CBE for her services to small businesses in the UK.
Sue Nelson, award-winning entrepreneur, author, speaker and broadcaster, was appointed chair of Produced in Kent in June 2021.
Sue Nelson CBE
Prior to this, she had built a successful company called Breakthrough Funding, which was designed to champion the small business owner - it was sold to Ernst & Young in March 2020.
The success of the Breakthrough company allowed Sue to fund her own social impact work, this included The FoodTalk Radio Show which is broadcast weekly.
It showcases small producers and champions the UK for its food and food technology innovation.
Having spent her early childhood in inner city London - for the first year of her life her parents lived in a flat with no running water - they moved to Kent where she attended Highworth Grammar School in Ashford - where she would become head girl.
Sue, also a member of the Guild of Food Writers and author of ten books, said: "I’m very proud that I started a small business and sold it to a multinational with a great deal of help from my wonderful colleagues.
"But it’s not about that, at all. Alongside my corporate work, I’ve been involved with charities, not-for-profits, and community projects for the last 25 years.
“During this time, I’ve admired the amazing people who quietly go about their work at grass roots level with huge compassion, generosity, and modesty.
"It’s humbling to watch how they make a positive difference 365 days of the year at a very personal level, often on low pay or as a volunteer.
"So, to all the unsung heroes that I’ve had the great pleasure of working with for the last couple of decades, I am honoured to accept this award on their behalf and not mine.”
Officers of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)
David Wells OBE
David Wells, the chief executive of business group Logistics UK, based in Tunbridge Wells, has been awarded an OBE for services to transport and logistics.
Mr Wells, 56, who has been in charge of the organisation for the past six years, has been recognised for his transformational work which has established the business group as one of the largest and most important in the UK, raising the voice and impact of the sector at a critical time to help make Brexit work and keeping Britain’s economy moving during the Brexit transition and the Covid-19 pandemic.
he said: “I am truly honoured - it has been an unprecedented period of challenge and change for our sector.
"I have always said that our industry shows resilience unlike any other, and that has been demonstrated time and again during my time as chief executive.
" I am indebted to all our amazing members and their staff, as well as the team at Logistics UK, for the support and commitment which they have shown to keep goods moving, despite the challenges posed by Brexit, the Covid-19 pandemic, skills shortages and other unforeseen circumstances. This award is for them too.”
Mr Wells is married with two sons and lives in Eastbourne.
ORDER OF THE BRITISH EMPIRE
Commanders of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)
Officers of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)
Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)
Medallists of the Order of the British Empire (BEM)