Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Teenage cancer victim in MBE honour

Cancer patient Stephen Sutton will be awarded a posthumous MBE

Teenage cancer victim Stephen Sutton has been honoured with an MBE in this year's Queen's Birthday Honours, just weeks after losing his fight against the disease.

The 19-year-old, who accepted the accolade before his death on May 14, is joined in the latest round of honours by A-lister Angelina Jolie, who receives an honorary damehood for her work to fight sexual violence.

Jolie, who has been co-chairing the End Sexual Violence in Conflict (ESVC) global summit with Foreign Secretary William Hague in London this week, is recognised in the Diplomatic Service and Overseas Birthday 2014 Honours list, for exceptional service to Britain overseas.

However the award for Jolie did not meet with universal approval. The Daily Mail said "eyebrows were raised" at the "surprise accolade".

It quoted Labour MP Paul Flynn saying that giving a top award to a celebrity with friends in high places rather than an unsung British hero undermined the credibility of the system.

He said: "Angelina Jolie is doing creditable work but it is ridiculous to honour people who are already over-endowed with privileges and wealth."

More than 1,100 people have been recognised in the latest set of honours.

Stephen Sutton's MBE is backdated to the date of his death last month, which touched millions and resulted in a huge boost in donations to the Teenage Cancer Trust.

His mother Jane said that although he always said he did not want recognition for his charity work, even he acknowledged that to receive an MBE was "awesome" and definitely gave it his trademark "thumbs up".

The teenager, who was diagnosed with bowel cancer at 15, became a household name as he helped raise £4 million for the fight against cancer, staying positive throughout his illness despite his impending death.

Mrs Sutton said: "Shortly before Stephen passed away on May 14 he received a letter from the Cabinet Office asking if he was agreeable to accepting an MBE in recognition of his fundraising and services to the Teenage Cancer Trust.

"He thought it was an incredible honour to have been nominated and it definitely got the 'thumbs up'."

She said the honour was a "wonderful recognition" of her son's charity work and would help promote the legacy of his Facebook page "Stephen's Story".

"Although Stephen continually told all of us that he didn't do his charity work for recognition, even he acknowledged that to be appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire was 'AWESOME'," she added.

Teenage Cancer Trust chief executive Siobhan Dunn said Stephen was an exceptional young man who had created the single biggest fundraising event in the Trust's history.

She said: "His achievements are outstanding and it is wonderful to see him honoured in this way.

"Stephen didn't measure life in time, preferring instead to measure it by the difference someone makes."

Jolie was awarded an honorary damehood (DCMG) for services to UK foreign policy and the campaign to end war zone sexual violence.

The star, who is special envoy for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and co-founded the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (PSVI) with Mr Hague in 2012, said: "Working on the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative and with survivors of rape is an honour in itself.

"I know that succeeding in our goals will take a lifetime, and I am dedicated to it for all of mine."

Announcing the honours, the Cabinet Office said there were roughly equal numbers of women and men recipients, with women making up 49%.

The awards see actress Dame Maggie Smith made a Companion of Honour; while Daniel Day-Lewis receives a knighthood, and Homeland star Damian Lewis gets an OBE.

Day-Lewis, whose 2012 Oscar win for Lincoln made him the first man to win three best actor statuettes, said he was "entirely amazed and utterly delighted", while Lewis, who starred in 2001 Second World War epic Band of Brothers, said he decided to do "the very un-British thing" of accepting the compliment of an honour.

Britain's winter Olympians followed their summer predecessors' success with MBEs going to skeleton gold medallist Lizzy Yarnold, Britain's first gold medallist of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, and to visually-impaired skier Kelly Gallagher and her guide Charlotte Evans, who won Britain's first ever gold medal in the Winter Paralympics.

Yarnold, 25, said the honour was a "complete surprise", saying: "Getting an MBE feels so different to the awards you achieve as an athlete because those are the ones you have been working towards day after day in training."

Also in the world of sport, an OBE goes to Wales rugby head coach Warren Gatland, who said it was a "massive honour" and he was "absolutely over the moon".

Best-selling author Hilary Mantel becomes a dame, as does golfer Laura Davies and fashion designer Zandra Rhodes.

Mantel, whose novels about the life of King Henry VIII's adviser Thomas Cromwell have been critical and commercial hits, said she saw the honour as "encouragement for the future" as much as a reward for the past.

Torchwood star John Barrowman, who has also enjoyed a successful West End career and hosted a number of TV shows, said he was thrilled to receive an MBE, declaring: "I'm going to enjoy it for the rest of my life."

And singer songwriter Cerys Matthews, formerly of the Welsh band Catatonia and now a radio and TV presenter, said it was "incredible" to be recognised but her MBE was more for the records she had played on air than the ones she had made herself.

Rhodes told BBC Radio 4's Today it was "great to realise that your country appreciate what you do".

"I am very proud of being British and I am an amazing royalist so it will be quite fabulous," she said of her forthcoming visit to Buckingham Palace.

"I will have to have an exotic hat, probably by Stephen Jones, and I will have to design something specially."

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