Birthday Honours 2020: Marcus Rashford, Joe Wicks and key workers honoured

Birthday Honours 2020: Marcus Rashford, Joe Wicks and key workers honoured

Front-line workers and volunteers who contributed to the response to Covid-19 dominate the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Footballer Marcus Rashford and fitness coach Joe Wicks are also recognised for their efforts during the pandemic, becoming MBEs on the delayed list.

TV chef Mary Berry and actress Maureen Lipman are made dames, while actor David Suchet and veteran entertainer Tommy Steele are both knighted.

TV presenter Lorraine Kelly and broadcaster Prof Brian Cox become CBEs.

The list is usually published in June, when the Queen celebrates her official birthday, but it was postponed so that individuals who played crucial roles in the first months of the coronavirus outbreak could be added.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the recipients of this year’s honours were “a testament to the sort of country we are – caring, compassionate and resolute in the face of a global pandemic”.

“The hard work and dedication of these local, often unsung heroes has helped carry us through,” he added.

England player Rashford, whose award came for services to vulnerable children in the UK during the coronavirus epidemic, said becoming an MBE sounded “a little bit strange but obviously I feel honoured”.

The 22-year-old Manchester United forward successfully campaigned to extend free school meals over the summer after pressing the government into a U-turn on the issue.

“Hopefully it inspires more people to do good things,” Rashford said. “It’s a nice moment for me personally but I feel like I’m still at the beginning of the journey that I set out to try to achieve.”

But he said his main focus now was on having the scheme extended.

“What I’d like to do, now that I’m in this position, is just speak directly to the prime minister and really ask for the vouchers to be extended at least until October half term, because I think that’s what the families need,” he said.

Wicks, also known as The Body Coach, became the UK’s PE teacher during the national lockdown by running free online classes every weekday for children and parents to keep fit.

“If you met me as a little boy you’d have thought ‘he’s not going to go anywhere, he’s not going to do anything great’, he said. “But I’ve turned it around and I really am proud I’ve become this person who’s helping people.”

He received an MBE for his home workouts, along with Mr Motivator – real name Derrick Evans – who rose to fame in the 1990s on GMTV and returned to the nation’s TVs with his exercise classes.

However, it is the “unsung heroes” of the pandemic, such as NHS and social care staff, fundraisers, shop workers, and drivers – of public transport and deliveries, which make up the majority of the 414 names who have been awarded for their “exceptional contributions” during the outbreak.

‘For the nurses who died’

Felicia Kwaku, from Islington, north London, who has been a nurse for 30 years, is among the health and social care workers which make up 14% of the total 1,495 recipients on the list.

The 52-year-old, who is associate director of nursing at Kings College NHS Foundation Trust, championed the cause of nurses from a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) background, who were being disproportionately affected by the virus.

She said it was an “absolute honour” to be made an OBE for services to nursing, adding that it wasn’t just for her but also the “nurses I work with and the ones who lost their lives”.

Fundraisers are also celebrated after millions of pounds were raised for charity during the crisis.

Dabirul Islam Choudhury, from Bow, east London, said he was “proud” after becoming an OBE for raising more than £420,000 for coronavirus relief and said he “thanked everybody from the bottom of my heart”.

Mr Choudhury, who turns 101 in January, said he was inspired by another 100-year-old, Captain Sir Tom Moore, to walk almost 1,000 laps of his garden while fasting for Ramadan.

Online quizzes became a feature of lockdown for many but for Jay Flynn, 38, from Darwen, Lancashire, his virtual pub quiz has seen him awarded an MBE for charitable service.

The former pub landlord’s quiz went viral with more than 180,000 people playing along at its peak – from as far afield as New Zealand and the US – and he raised more than £750,000 through donations.

The huge voluntary effort across the country has also been reflected, with 72% of recipients awarded for their work in the community, including those who supplied free meals to those who were shielding, volunteering to help those at risk, and delivering care packages to NHS frontline workers.

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The CDG would also like to thank all of the community sector locally, who delivered food parcels to keeping in touch with everyone. Great community spirit.