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New Year's Honours: Tony McCoy, James Nesbitt and Carl Frampton among Northern Ireland recipients

Published 30/12/2015

Tony McCoy will get a knighthood, reports suggest
Tony McCoy will get a knighthood, reports suggest

Champion jockey Tony McCoy, boxer Carl Frampton and actor James Nesbitt are among the Northern Ireland recipients in the New Year's Honours next week.

Tony McCoy called it an "unbelievable privilege" as he was awarded a knighthood in recognition of his incredible racing career.

OBE for Northern Ireland actor James Nesbitt
OBE for Northern Ireland actor James Nesbitt

The 41-year-old from Moneyglass in County Antrim retired from racing in April after being crowned champion jockey for a 20th consecutive year.

McCoy said: " It is an unbelievable privilege and honour to receive a knighthood in the New Year Honours List. I certainly wasn't expecting it.

"I consider myself lucky to have had a job I loved, every single day. The team around me made it possible for me to achieve my goals and the support from the public and racing community since my retirement has been overwhelming. A knighthood really tops off what's been a crazy and memorable year."

The champion was last week presented with a lifetime achievement award at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony.

Throughout his two-decade career, he rode 4,300 winners including at the Grand National and Cheltenham Gold Cup.

New Year's Honours list 2016 in full  

Meanwhile Nesbitt will receive an OBE for services to Northern Ireland and to acting. Originally from Coleraine, Nesbitt is a patron of Wave Trauma Centre, which supports people bereaved, injured or traumatised during the years of violence.

Nesbitt said: "I've been very blessed with my work and very blessed to come from Northern Ireland and for those two things to be on the citation was really rather gratifying."

He is one of a host of stars of stage and screen to be recognised in the list, including Barbara Windsor and fellow east Londoner turned Hollywood star Idris Elba, who said receiving an OBE made him "beyond proud".

MBE for Belfast boxer Carl Frampton
MBE for Belfast boxer Carl Frampton

Windsor, who first appeared on stage at the tender age of 13 before rising to fame in the Carry On films, is recognised for services to charity and entertainment.

She said: "For a girl from the East End born into a working class family and an evacuee during World War Two, this is truly like a dream. I am so happy and blessed to say it's real."

After achieving fame in cult crime drama The Wire, Elba has gone on to star in blockbusters such as Prometheus and took the lead as Nelson Mandela in the biographical film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

The Queen pictured with Barbara Windsor during a 2001 visit to the EastEnders set at Elstree Studios
The Queen pictured with Barbara Windsor during a 2001 visit to the EastEnders set at Elstree Studios

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OBE for actor Idris Elba
OBE for actor Idris Elba

The actor, who was brought up in Hackney, east London, and has a Sierra Leonean father and Ghanaian mother, said: "Awards and honours come in all shapes and sizes and all as significant as the other but this is beyond special, as it comes from Queen and country and I couldn't be more proud for receiving this right now, what a year... On me head son!"

Celebrated thespian Sian Phillips is also made a dame, while Imelda Staunton receives a CBE, and actor David Oyelowo gets an OBE.

OBE: cyclist Chris Froome
OBE: cyclist Chris Froome

Sport: Frampton awarded MBE

Belfast boxer Carl Frampton was pleasantly surprised to be awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours for services to boxing.

The 28-year-old from Belfast is the reigning IBF super-bantamweight champion and is set to fight WBA belt-holder Scott Quigg in a unification bout in Manchester on February 27 next year.

Nicknamed the Jackal, he made his professional debut in 2009 and is yet to be beaten in 21 fights, winning 14 of them by knock-out.

OBE: Sports commentator Sue Barker
OBE: Sports commentator Sue Barker

Frampton was made to work hard in his most recent title defence, suffering two first-round knockdowns against Alejandro Gonzalez in El Paso in July before going on to win the fight on points.

Frampton said he was privileged to join such Belfast luminaries as Barry McGuigan and double Olympic bronze medallist Paddy Barnes in receiving an honour.

Frampton said: ''It came as a big surprise and it was actually Barry who told me the good news. I am happy and proud and I am pleased that my sport of professional boxing has got some recognition.

OBE: Damon Albarn
OBE: Damon Albarn

''It is a good time to get the award ahead of my unification fight against Scott Quigg next month, and it gives me an incentive to go on and achieve even more in my career in the future.''

Frampton earned his IBF belt in September 2014 with a unanimous points victory over Kiko Martinez in Belfast.

Like his mentor McGuigan, Frampton, who is from a Protestant background but is married to a Catholic, has succeeded in drawing support from either side of the sectarian divide.

Lynton Crosby was the general election strategist for the Tory party
Lynton Crosby was the general election strategist for the Tory party

In an interview with the BBC in 2014, McGuigan said: "Carl is doing what I did.

"He's a beacon for peace and reconciliation and represents the future of Northern Ireland. Albeit, it's not as treacherous at the moment - we don't have the Troubles like we did back then."

Meanwhile former motorsports star John Surtees and footballers Denis Law and Francis Lee receiving CBEs, and two-times Tour de France winner cyclist Chris Froome and snooker player Ronnie O'Sullivan handed OBEs.

Sports commentator Sue Barker receives an OBE, while sports broadcaster Jacqui Oatley, who became the first female commentator on Match Of The Day, is awarded an MBE.


Other prominent names to be recognised include celebrated choreographer Matthew Bourne, who gets a knighthood along with former TV journalist Martyn Lewis, who is recognised for his charity work.

The music industry is represented by Damon Albarn, who since shooting to fame with Blur in the early 90s, has enjoyed success with several other acts and receives an OBE, while an MBE has been awarded to Clifford Price - more commonly known as Goldie - for his contribution to the music, TV and film industry and his work with a number of charities. He said he "ran to the arts, because the arts are the one thing that would never abandon me".

As in other years, the honours list has been beset by leaks, with Windsor and McCoy named as recipients some days ago while controversy over a knighthood for Lynton Crosby, David Cameron's general election strategist, also hit the headlines.

Read more

Minister defends 'knighthood' for Tory election chief Lynton Crosby  

The list sees several leading business figures awarded for their efforts in boosting the UK economy, including damehoods for easyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall and the founder of high fashion website Net-A-Porter Natalie Massenet, while Ann Summers chief executive Jacqueline Gold receives the CBE.


Many Britons are celebrated for their efforts in the fight against the Ebola epidemic in west Africa, including a knighthood for Dr Michael Jacobs, clinical lead in infectious diseases at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, who treated nurses Pauline Cafferkey, Will Pooley and Anna Cross.

CBEs also go to Dr Timothy Brooks, head of the Rare and Imported Pathogens Laboratory at Public Health England, and Professor Christopher Bulstrode, Emeritus Professor at Green Templeton College, Oxford, and volunteer for Doctors of the World, while Grace Jackson, Sierra Leone Programme Manager at the Department for International Development (DFID) gets an OBE.

Many more are recognised for their work in helping others, including philanthropists Clive Cowdery, who founded the Resolution Foundation in 2005 and receives a knighthood alongside Jack Petchey, who has contributed more than £100 million since he established his foundation in 1999, which benefits young people in east London and Essex.

1,196 people receive award

The New Year's Honour list 2016 sees a total of 1,196 people receive an award, more than three quarters of whom are recognised for outstanding work in their communities, either in a voluntary or paid capacity.

Among them is Jonjo Heuerman, who at 13 is the youngest recipient on this list and receives the British Empire Medal (BEM) after raising £250,000 for the Bobby Moore Fund at Cancer Research UK.

The eldest is 99-year-old Dorothy Start, who is honoured in recognition of more than half a century of committed community work in Friern Barnet in Hertfordshire. Also receiving a BEM is Richard Tyler who was in charge of the Red Cross Team during the Shoreham Airshow disaster, which saw 11 people killed in August. Falklands veteran and tireless charity campaigner Simon Weston sees his OBE upgraded to CBE.

More than one in 20 (5.7%) of those on the list come from ethnic minority communities, while 7.5% consider themselves to have a disability under the Equality Act 2010.

Just under half (48%) of those recognised are women, although the list sees a significant rise in the proportion of awards to women at senior levels, at 38% compared to 31% in the 2015 Birthday Honours.

Other women to receive top accolades include damehoods for Judith Hackitt, chairwoman of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), Glenys Stacey, chief executive of exams regulator Ofqual, and Heather Rabbatts, non-executive director of the Football Association (FA).

A number of entrepreneurs are awarded, including a CBE for Pets at Home founder Anthony Preston, an OBE for Amanda Boyle, founder of crowd funding platform Bloom, and an MBE for Alison Lewy, the founder of Fashion Angel, which offers business mentoring, training and access to funding to new and established fashion businesses.

There are many honours for people working in health and education, including 10 awards for nurses at MBE level.

Professor Margaret Whitehead, head of Public Health and Policy at the Institute of Psychology, Health and Society at the University of Liverpool, is made a dame, as is Professor Lesley Fallowfield, director of Sussex Health Outcomes Research and Education in Cancer at the University of Sussex, while Harpal Kumar, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, is knighted.


Around one in 10 honours are for work in education, including 26 head teachers.

Susan Jowett, chief executive of the Spencer Academies Trust, receives a damehood, while Steve Lancashire, founder of REAch2, the largest primary academy sponsor in the country, Dr David Collins, the first Further Education (FE) Commissioner, responsible for driving improvement and acting quickly to tackle failing colleges, and Professor Paul Curran, Vice-Chancellor of City University, London, are all knighted.

There are also a number of awards for services to Second World War commemoration, including Agnes Grunwald-Spier, trustee of the Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD), who receives an MBE, while Ivor Perl, an Auschwitz-Birkenau survivor who has been working with the HMD Trust in local communities, receives a BEM.

In politics, former Lib Dem MP Ed Davey, who was Energy Secretary under the Coalition Government, is knighted along with Paul Grice, clerk and chief executive of Scottish Parliament, while Labour's Rosie Winterton, MP for Doncaster Central and Opposition Chief Whip, receives a damehood.

Order of Merit

In addition to the honours recipients, this year sees three new additions to the Order of Merit (OM), which is the personal gift of the Queen.

The OM goes to Lord Darzi for medicine, Professor Dame Ann Dowling for mechanical engineering, and Sir James Dyson for his work in industrial design.

Awarded to individuals for great achievement in the fields of the arts, learning, literature and science, there can be a total of only 24 OMs at any one time, making it a highly-exclusive collection of members.

Previous recipients include Florence Nightingale and Sir Winston Churchill, as well as honorary members Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela

Nesbitt honour marks painful search for Disapppeared

James Nesbitt has said receiving an OBE will "give credence" to the cause of those left searching for loved ones following the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

The Missing star was awarded the honour in the New Year's list for services to Northern Ireland and to acting, after years of work helping families affected by the conflict.

Originally from Coleraine, Nesbitt is a patron of Wave Trauma Centre, which supports people bereaved, injured or traumatised during the years of violence.

The 50-year-old also appeared in several films about the unrest, including Bloody Sunday and Five Minutes of Heaven.

He told the Press Association: "I've been very blessed with my work and very blessed to come from Northern Ireland, and for those two things to be on the citation was really rather gratifying.

"To be associated with the Wave Trauma success story - a success story tarnished by the loss and the years of not having the remains - it really means an awful lot to me."

After 30 years of violence, many were left searching for the resting places of friends and relatives who disappeared.

"They're the people who have gone through the pain, the real hard work, the searching," Nesbitt added.

"This gives credence to their cause, a cause which they have been fighting now for so long, to try and find the remains of loved ones so they can have some kind of closure."

He added that appearing in films about Northern Ireland and the bloodiest chapter in its history came with a weight of responsibility.

"You cannot help the feeling the responsibility is a wee bit heavier," he said.

"It's where I come from and it's affected so many lives and that has been a great privilege. That is what you go into the job for - the opportunity to exercise your craft, but also say something about where you come from, to maybe have an impact."

He will next be seen playing killer dentist Colin Howell in three-part ITV drama The Secret, based on the true crime book by the Press Association's former Ireland editor, Deric Henderson.

He said: "It's an extraordinary story. If you invented it and took it to various commissioners in television drama, they would have found a lot of holes in it - they would've said 'no-one would believe that'."

He will also be hosting Fifa's Ballon d'Or ceremony on January 11, when the world's best footballer is crowned.

The long-time Manchester United fan, who has also helped support his local team, Coleraine, when they faced financial difficulties, said he hoped the occasion would remind fans about the "purity of the game" in the wake of Fifa's scandals.

He said: "I'm a football fan and I think what it should be, during difficult times for that organisation, is a reminder of the purity of football - why grown-up men get paid an awful lot of money to play football and why they still play with the same passion they played with when they were boys kicking it around in a park.

"Whatever has happened inside football, I'm still a football fan. My three big loves outside of my family are Northern Ireland, Manchester United and Coleraine, and I still follow them with the same passion as when I was a child."

Asked whether his support for United would have him rooting for Cristiano Ronaldo for the award, he joked that he hoped to persuade him to rejoin the club, which is under pressure due to some poor recent results.

"I'm taking a shirt with Ronaldo's name and number on it, and hopefully he'll put it on and get on the plane back with me."

Next year will also mark the return of TV hit Cold Feet after 12 years, with Nesbitt reprising his role as Adam.

He said: "It's quite daunting. There is a bit of you which thinks 'will this be OK?', because it will be compared to something that happened before, but, you know, why not?

"I read the first couple of scripts and it was fun to see those characters again, how much they have changed.

"I mean, Adam still seems to be a bit of an idiot, so I'm going to have to try and cast my eyes back to the days of eejitry, shall we say."

Northern Ireland enjoys most honours per person

An analysis of the 2016 list shows that Northern Ireland is the area of the UK enjoying the most number of honours per person, with roughly 39 awards for every million of the population.

In second place is south-east England (32) followed by London (22).

Eastern England has the lowest number of honours per million people (8), followed by the East Midlands (11) and the West Midlands and Yorkshire & Humber (both 12).

Women make up almost two-thirds of honours awarded to people in Scotland - more than in any other part of the UK.

Some 59% of 2016's recipients are female in Scotland, compared with a UK-wide figure of 48%.

Other areas of the country in which women outscore men include Wales (57%), south-west England (52%) and London and north-east England (both 51%).

By contrast, just over a third (36%) of recipients in the East Midlands are female - the lowest proportion anywhere in the UK.

Next door in the West Midlands, women receive 43% of all honours.

The national average of 48% is down two percentage points on the figure for 2015, and three points lower than the number for 2014.

But the proportion of awards for women at senior levels (classed as knighthood, damehood or C-level) is up from 31% in the 2015 birthday honours to 38%.

Historically, the number of new year honours awarded to women has risen gradually, from just 17% in 1974 to 28% in 1994 and 34% in 2004.


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