Veteran actress Barbara Windsor has been made a dame on a New Year Honours list which also recognises the achievements of jockey AP McCoy with a knighthood.
The honour for Dame Barbara, 78, best known for playing pub landlady Peggy Mitchell in EastEnders and for her roles in the Carry On films, is for services to charity and entertainment.
McCoy, the 20-time champion jockey, who won the lifetime achievement award at this month’s BBC Sports Personality of the Year, becomes Sir Tony for services to horse racing.
A total of 1,196 people are on the list, with just over three quarters of the recipients people who have undertaken work in their local community.
Dame Barbara, 78, who is also an ambassador for Age UK, said she was “proud and extremely humbled”.
“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,” she said.
Other thespians on the list include celebrated Welsh actress Sian Phillips, who is made a dame; stage and screen star Imelda Staunton, who receives a CBE, and Luther actor Idris Elba, who becomes an OBE. James Nesbitt, who is made an OBE for services to acting and Northern Ireland following years of helping families affected by the Troubles, said his honour was “really rather gratifying”.
An OBE for sports presenter and former tennis player Sue Barker is for services to broadcasting and charity, and Jacqui Oatley, the first female commentator on Match Of The Day, is made an MBE.
Sporting stars from past and present are well represented, with former Manchester United and Scotland striker Denis Law made a CBE for services to football and charity, and two-time Tour de France winner, cyclist Chris Froome, and multiple world champion snooker player Ronnie O’Sullivan among the OBEs.
Falklands veteran and charity campaigner Simon Weston becomes a CBE.
Tories under fire
There is also recognition for Britons who helped in the fight against the Ebola epidemic in west Africa, with several medics on the list including Dr Michael Jacobs, who treated three nurses in London after they contracted the disease working in Sierra Leone, receiving a knighthood.
A knighthood given to the Conservatives’ general election strategist Lynton Crosby for political service saw Labour suggest the honours system had been “degraded”, with shadow home secretary Andy Burnham describing his inclusion as “outrageous”.
But the Tories defended the Australian’s “contribution to the democratic process”, saying it amounted to “public service”.
In business and industry, there are damehoods for Easyjet chief executive Carolyn McCall and the founder of high fashion website Net-A-Porter, Natalie Massenet. Ann Summers chief executive Jacqueline Gold is made a CBE.
The youngest recipient on the list is 13-year-old Jonjo Heuerman, from Kent, who receives a British Empire Medal after raising £250,000 for the Bobby Moore Fund at Cancer Research UK. The eldest is Dorothy Start, 99, from Hertfordshire, whose BEM is in recognition of more than half a century of community work.
Compared to the Birthday Honours, there were slightly more men on the New Year list – 52% of recipients. However, there was an increase in the proportion of awards to women at senior levels, with 38% of the top honours going to women compared to 31% in June.
76% for “outstanding” work in their communities
48% are women
24 men receive knighthoods
15 women become dames
From the music world, Blur frontman Damon Albarn becomes an OBE, while Clifford Price, better known as Goldie, receives an MBE for his recording, film and charity work.
Screenwriter and playwright Peter Morgan could come face to face with one of his favourite subjects at a future investiture ceremony after receiving a CBE. His best known work includes the 2006 film The Queen and a play about the monarch, The Audience.
Tamara Rojo, principal dancer and artistic director of the English National Ballet described her CBE as a humbling and a “wonderful encouragement to continue to work for the arts”. Other knighthoods go to celebrated choreographer Matthew Bourne, and former TV journalist Martyn Lewis, who is recognised for his charity work.
Other sporting honours include CBEs for John Surtees, the only man to win world championships on two and four wheels, and former Manchester City and England player Francis Lee.
The success of England women’s footballers, who came third at the World Cup in Canada in the summer, is also recognised, with captain Steph Houghton and team-mate Fara Williams both receiving MBEs. Football Association director Heather Rabbatts – who became the FA’s first female board member in 2012 – becomes a Dame for services to football and equality.
AP McCoy, who retired in April after a 23-year National Hunt career that included 31 Cheltenham Festival winners, as well as two Gold Cups and one Grand National success, said he had been “speechless” when he learned of his knighthood.
“I am very proud of it,” he said. “I am very proud for horse racing because it has been so good to me.”
Among the political honours, Ed Davey, the former Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change who lost his seat at May’s general election; Henry Bellingham, MP for North West Norfolk, and Paul Grice, clerk and chief executive of the Scottish Parliament, are knighted. Rosie Winterton, MP for Doncaster Central and opposition chief whip, becomes a dame.
There are also knighthoods for philanthropists Clive Cowdery, who founded the Resolution Foundation in 2005, and Jack Petchey, who has contributed more than £100m since he established his foundation in 1999, which helps young people in east London and Essex.
The medics honoured for their response to the Ebola crisis also include Dr Timothy Brooks, head of the rare and imported pathogens laboratory at Public Health England (CBE), and Professor Christopher Bulstrode, Emeritus Professor at Green Templeton College, Oxford (OBE).
MBEs for Agnes Grunwald-Spier and Susan Pollack recognise their work on Holocaust Memorial Day, while there are British Empire Medals for Lily Ebert and Ivor Perl, two Auschwitz survivors who have been working to educate young people about their experiences.
Yasmin Sheikh, co-founder of the British Community Honours Awards, is made a CBE for services to women and social integration.
The honours system
Commonly awarded ranks:
- Companion of honour – Limited to 65 people. Recipients wear the initials CH after their name
- Knight or Dame
- CBE – Commander of the Order of the British Empire
- OBE – Officer of the Order of the British Empire
- MBE – Member of the Order of the British Empire
- BEM – British Empire Medal
The British Empire Medal was reintroduced in 2012 to recognise achievement or service in the community.
BEMs go to Richard Tyler, who was in charge of the Red Cross team during the Shoreham Airshow crash in August which saw 11 people killed; Marny Mowatt for her service to the Orkney Agricultural Show, and Harry Parkes, from Nottinghamshire, who campaigned for the Bevin Boys WWII miners to be recognised.
George Batts, 90, from Kent, the ex-national secretary of the now-disbanded Normandy Veterans’ Association, who for years has organised pilgrimages to France to remember fallen D-Day comrades is made an MBE.
The same honour goes to Carmell McConnell, the founder of Magic Breakfast which delivers free healthy breakfast to feed children in the UK.
Historian and museum curator Sir Roy Strong joins the elite Order of the Companion of Honour for his outstanding contribution to UK cultural life.
There are also three new additions to the Order of Merit, which can only contain 24 people at any one time. Lord Darzi is admitted for medicine, Professor Dame Ann Dowling, president of the Royal Academy of Engineering, for mechanical engineering, and Sir James Dyson for his work in design.
As on previous occasions, the names of several recipients, including Barbara Windsor, AP McCoy and Lynton Crosby, were leaked before the publication of the list. Cabinet Office officials said they would be reviewing procedures in the wake of events.