Python Palin and Dame Twiggy joined by cave rescue divers in 2019 honours list

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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.

New Year Honours 2019: by award
(PA Graphics)

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.

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.

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, but it makes me giggle.

“The hardest thing has been keeping it a secret.

“I’m a very proud Brit. I feel I’m an ambassador for Britain, I always have (felt I am one) because I think it’s the best country in the world and I travel the world all the time and I’m known throughout the world and, you know, being British is one of my things.”

Pullman, the creator of the hugely successful His Dark Materials trilogy, said he was “very surprised and honoured” to receive his knighthood for services to literature.

He added: “I’m most grateful of all to those who continue to read my books, and I hope they don’t have to work as hard as those who edit them.”

Carter, who played Mr Carson in the hit British period drama Downton Abbey, said he was “delighted” his OBE for services to drama came in time to be seen by his 99-year-old mother, who “lit up at the good news”.

He added: “I’m hoping for a 2019 of good news and kindness. It seems perilous times and it would be good to get a bit of kindness, sanity and good cheer back into the world.”

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 so very pleased that I was able to sort of morph from being Python and becoming a traveller, or a 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 nature 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.

Harry Kane
England football captain Harry Kane gets an MBE (PA)

Daphne Selfe, the world’s oldest working professional model at 90, gets a BEM for services to women and fashion, while the editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar Glenda Bailey becomes a dame in the overseas list for services to the GREAT Britain Campaign and UK prosperity, charity, fashion and journalism.

Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood, author of the feminist dystopian work The Handmaid’s Tale, becomes a member of the Order of the Companions of honour for services to literature.

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.

There is an MBE for Claire Turnham, founder of the Victims of Viagogo group, which helps customers reclaim money on event tickets, for services to consumer rights.

She said: “We started as a one person group and we’re now a thriving movement which really reflects people who had the courage to stand up and speak out about ticket abuse and about the misery that this company has caused.”

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 fiancee urged him to get in touch.

The striker told Spurs’ official website: “I thought something was wrong! But Kate was excited and told me that 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. It’s not just for me. We’re part of a journey together. It shows that the hard work has paid off.”

Former England cricket captain Alastair Cook 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.

Ex-England rugby skipper Bill Beaumont, who is currently World Rugby chairman, is knighted for services to Rugby Union Football.

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.

Former footballer Leroy Rosenior, now vice-president of Show Racism the Red Card, gets an MBE for services to tackling discrimination in sport.

New Year Honours 2019: awards going to women
(PA Graphics)

Elsewhere, consultant plastic surgeon professor Simon Peter Jabir Kay, of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, will get an OBE for services to complex reconstructive hand surgery, including hand transplantation.

In 2016, Prof Kay performed the first double hand transplant in the UK on Chris King, who was seriously maimed in a workplace accident.

Leeds Rhinos fan Mr King later said he can now enjoy applauding his rugby league side and even penned a thank-you letter to Prof Kay after the pioneering operation.

John Clough, whose daughter Jane was murdered by her ex-boyfriend, gets an MBE for his campaigning for victims of domestic abuse.

He is joined by Andrea Aviet, who runs a charity helping abused women and young people, and who gets a BEM.

Overall 12% of those being honoured come from a black, Asian and minority ethnic background, 4% consider themselves disabled and 5% identify as LGBT.

Youth magazine founder Saeed Atcha, 22, is the youngest to be recognised, with an MBE for services to young people and the community in Greater Manchester.

The oldest is 100-year-old Second World War veteran Robert Lingwood, who gets a BEM for services to the community in County Tyrone.

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