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New Year Honours: Divers who took part in Thai cave rescue honoured for their bravery

Heroic scuba team joins UK’s stars of screen, sport and the arts earning royal accolades for a range of exceptional achievements

Dame Lesley ‘Twiggy’ Lawson
Dame Lesley ‘Twiggy’ Lawson
Sir Michael Palin
Actor Jim Carter (MBE)
Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason (CBE)
TV presenter Chris Packham (CBE)
Members of the British Cave Rescue Team (left to right) Josh Bratchley (OBE), Jason Mallinson (Queen’s Gallantry Medal) and Chris Jewell (Queen’s Gallantry Medal)
Actress Thandie Newton (OBE)

By Thomas Hornall

British divers who helped save a youth football team trapped inside a flooded cave in Thailand have been decorated alongside stars of entertainment, sport and the arts in the 2019 New Year Honours list.

Sixties supermodel Lesley 'Twiggy' Lawson receives a damehood for services to fashion, the arts and charity, and best-selling author Philip Pullman gets a knighthood.

Downton Abbey's Jim Carter gets an OBE, while Monty Python star and travel documentary maker Michael Palin is awarded a knighthood.

Acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan, whose movies include Inception and Dunkirk, gets a CBE for services to film.

Overall, 1,148 recipients are named in the 2019 New Year list, including 43 people recognised for their acts responding to the terror attacks in Manchester and London in 2017.

Divers Joshua Bratchley, Lance Corporal Connor Roe and Vernon Unsworth, the ex-pat suing Tesla entrepreneur Elon Musk for labelling him a "pedo guy", get MBEs for their roles in the dramatic Thai cave rescue, which gripped the world during the summer.

Four other British cave divers involved in the operation are also receiving civilian gallantry awards for exceptional bravery protecting others.

Richard Stanton and John Volanthen, the first to reach the 12 stranded children and their team coach, are awarded the George Medal, while Christopher Jewell and Jason Mallinson receive the Queen's Gallantry Medal.

They are among 12 recipients of bravery awards announced at the same time as the main honours list, including seven firefighters who saved elderly residents from a serious blaze at a care home in Cheshunt in 2017.

Wayne Ansell, Simon Best, Daniel Cooper, Ricky Davis, Christopher Meadows, Radoslaw Przemyslaw Pejka and Simon Waddingham, all of Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, get Queen's Gallantry Medals in recognition of their acts.

Harry Gregg, former Manchester United goalkeeping legend- OBE for services to Football. (Paul Faith/PA)
Harry Gregg, former Manchester United goalkeeping legend- OBE for services to Football. (Paul Faith/PA)
Willie John McBride- CBE for services to Rugby Union. Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy/BLL
Heather Smart, Northern Irelands first female Firefighter- MBE for services to the advancement of women in the fire and rescue service.
Gareth McAuley, Northern Ireland defender- MBE for services to Football in Northern Ireland. Nick Potts/PA Wire.
Crusaders Manager Stephen Baxter- BEM for services to Football in Northern Ireland. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
UUP MLA Andy Allen- MBE for services to veterans and their families in Northern Ireland. (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Professor Anne Carlisle, vice chancellor of Falmouth University, has been appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in recognition of her services to Higher Education and the regional economy.
Adrian McAllister, Deputy Chief Constable, Lancashire Constabulary. OBE for services to policing, criminal justice and child protection.
Finlay Spratt, chairman of the Prison Officers Association- MBE for public service and charity
PSNI Inspector Rosie Leech- MBE for services to Policing and the Community in Northern Ireland. Credit: PA
Brian Ingram, Director of the Woodlands Juvenile Justice Centre near Bangor- OBE for services to vulnerable children and adults in custody. Niall Carson/PA.
PSNI Superintendent Brian Kee- Queen's Police Medal (QPM). Credit: PSNI

A Queen's Commendation for Bravery goes to 14-year-old Joe Rowlands, from Cheshire, whose sustained efforts saved his father Paul from drowning after their kayak capsized off Anglesey. Some of those named in the main honours list have spoken of their gratitude.

Twiggy told the Press Association: "It's wonderful. The hardest thing has been keeping it a secret."

Palin, who gets a knighthood in the Diplomatic Service and Overseas list for his international contributions to travel, culture and geography, said news of the accolade had not sunk in yet.

He said: "I don't think it will be until I see the envelopes addressing me as Sir Michael Palin. I have been a knight before, in Python films. I have been several knights including Sir Galahad and the knight who said, 'ni'."

He added: "I am very pleased I was able to morph from being Python to becoming a traveller, or presenter of travel programmes.

"That gave me the chance to see an enormous amount of the world."

Broadcaster and naturalist Chris Packham said "our wildlife needs a voice to shout above the noise" after being awarded a CBE for services to conservation.

Thai cave diver Mr Unsworth said: "This was a team effort and I'm very honoured to have been recognised, particularly as you don't engage in a major rescue expecting this outcome.

"For me, after saving the boys, this is the icing on the cake."

Fellow diver Mr Jewell added: "People from all over the country and the world have reached out to us to offer congratulations and express their gratitude."

Among those recognised for their response to the London and Manchester terror attacks in 2017 are Paul Woodrow, operations director at the London Ambulance Service, and Joy Ongcachuy, a theatre nurse at St Barts Hospital, who get OBEs for services to NHS leadership and healthcare respectively.

Theresa Lam, family liaison lead for Greater Manchester Police, gets a British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to policing and the community.

No awards will go to anyone involved in Grenfell Tower relief work until the public inquiry has concluded following talks with emergency services and community groups, organisers said.

Some 544 women are recognised in the list, representing 47% of the total, the lowest percentage since 2013.

They include Stagecoach co-founder Ann Gloag, to be made a dame for services to business and philanthropy, and former CEO of Virgin Money Jayne-Anne Gadhia, who also gets a damehood for services to the financial industry and to women in the industry.

Bafta-winning actress Thandie Newton, who starred in Oscar-winning film Crash and more recently the futuristic drama Westworld, gets an OBE for services to film and charity.

Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood, author of the feminist dystopian work The Handmaid's Tale, becomes a member of the Order of the Companions.

Actress Sophie Okonedo, who starred in Hotel Rwanda and more recently in Antony And Cleopatra at the National Theatre, has her OBE upgraded to a CBE for services to drama.

Dr Helen Pankhurst, a senior adviser at CARE international, and great-granddaughter of suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst, also gets a CBE, for services to gender equality.

In sport, England football captain Harry Kane gets an MBE while national team manager Gareth Southgate gets an OBE, both for services to football and in recognition of England's semi-final run at the 2018 World Cup.

Kane found out about his award shortly before Tottenham's Premier League game against Southampton on December 5 after his fiancée urged him to get in touch.

The striker told Spurs' website: "I thought something was wrong! But Kate was excited and told me we'd had a letter from the Queen saying we'd get an MBE. I'm proud for her as well and the whole family. We're part of a journey together. It shows that the hard work has paid off."

Former England cricket captain Alastair Cook (left) is knighted for services to cricket while Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas gets an upgrade from MBE to OBE to add to his BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2018 accolade.

Motor neurone disease sufferer and former Scottish rugby player George 'Doddie' Weir gets an OBE for services to rugby, motor neurone disease research and the community in the Scottish Borders.

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