Belfast Telegraph

Grease star among the big names from showbiz, sport and politics recognised

Olivia Newton-John
Olivia Newton-John
Sam Mendes

By Jess Glass

Household names from the worlds of showbiz, sport and politics have been recognised alongside a glittering array of figures from the arts, sciences and charity in the New Year Honours list.

British-born Australian songstress Olivia Newton-John is made a dame for services to charity, cancer research and entertainment, while critically acclaimed director Sam Mendes gets a knighthood for his contribution to drama.

From politics, Tory MP Iain Duncan Smith, the architect of the controversial Universal Credit system, is knighted alongside colleague Bob Neill.

Elsewhere, England's cricketing heroes, including Joe Root and Ben Stokes, are also recognised.

Mendes, who has directed two Bond films as well as multiple international theatre productions, said he was "amazed, delighted and extremely proud".

He said: "I have stood on the shoulders of so many collaborators and colleagues over the last 30 years - actors, writers, designers, producers, technicians - to whom I owe a huge debt of gratitude. I would not be receiving this honour without them."

Grease star Newton-John, who moved to Australia with her family as a five-year-old, said: "I am extremely excited, honoured and grateful beyond words to be included with such an esteemed group of women who have received this distinguished award before me.

"As a girl born in Cambridge, I am very proud of my British ancestry and so appreciative to be recognised in this way by the United Kingdom," Newton-John added.

Academics from the fields of health and science are honoured for their work along with two Holocaust survivors, the designer behind a seminal Joy Division album cover, and researchers looking into climate change.

D-Day veteran Harry Billinge, whose fundraising efforts have made headlines around the world, is made an MBE for services to charitable fundraising.

Mr Billinge, from St Austell in Cornwall, was just 18 when he landed on Gold Beach in Normandy on June 6 1944.

Cricket, unsurprisingly, features heavily in the sporting section of the 2020 honours after England's first men's Cricket World Cup victory last summer.

Off the back of the triumph, 28-year-old Stokes, the newly crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year, will be given an OBE.

One-day international captain Eoin Morgan, from Dublin, gets a CBE and team-mates Root and Jos Buttler are given MBEs.

Colin Graves, chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, is honoured with a CBE for services to the sport. Coach Trevor Bayliss, who saw the England team through their summer triumph, gets an OBE, and Clive Lloyd (75) a former West Indies captain, gets his CBE upgraded to a knighthood for services to the game.

But it is far from the only sport recognised in the latest honours.

Susan Campbell, director of women's football at the Football Association, becomes a dame for services to sport, while journalist and former gymnast Gabby Logan (46) is made an MBE for services to sports broadcasting and promoting women in sport.

Entertainment is well represented, with 12 Years A Slave director Steve McQueen receiving a knighthood for services to film.

Several musicians have also made the prestigious list, including Billy Ocean, 69, born Leslie Sebastian Charles, who gets an MBE for services to music.

Michael Prendergast, founding member of Merseybeat group The Searchers, gets an MBE, while Peter Saville, the man behind the Joy Division album cover for Unknown Pleasures, is made a CBE for services to design.

Sir Elton John also gets an upgrade, being appointed to the Order of the Companions of Honour.

Culinary household names Ainsley Harriott and Nadiya Hussain, who rose to fame by winning the 2015 series of The Great British Bake Off, receive MBEs, while chef and author Nigel Slater gets an OBE for services to cookery and literature.

Wine writer and broadcaster Robert "Oz" Clarke receives an OBE for services to journalism, while BBC Radio 1's longest-serving presenter Annie Nightingale is made a CBE for services to radio after previously receiving an MBE.

The businessman behind The Black Farmer brand of meat and dairy products, Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones (62) gets an MBE for services to British farming.

In politics and education, incumbent Labour MP for Hull North Diana Johnson is made a dame for charitable and political service for her years in the House of Commons.

Holocaust survivors Mindu Hornick and John Hajdu each get an MBE for services to Holocaust education and commemoration, in a list in which 31 people are honoured for Holocaust education.

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