This year, the New Year’s Honours list recognised 1,278 people who showed courage and leadership in their local areas, with 63% of the recipients awarded for their community work – many during Covid.
Among those honoured for their work during the pandemic were Mukesh Malhotra from Hounslow Rotary, Middlesex, Sarah Gardner, from Elthorne-Hillingdon Rotary in Middlesex, and Lisa Hunter, from Maidenhead Bridge Rotary in Berkshire.
Mukesh Malhotra, who had Covid over the festive period and also became a grandfather, received a British Empire Medal for his work in spearheading community efforts in Hounslow.
Mukesh, along with other Hounslow Rotarians, worked tirelessly to ensure food and provisions were made available, particularly to the vulnerable, in the London borough.
Through his involvement with the Hounslow Rotary, Mukesh introduced with Australian Susanne Rea, Rotary World’s Greatest Meal to Help End Polio, which globally has helped save over 16.5 million children.
He is also a trustee of the water charity Roll Out The Barrel, whose primary aim is to transport clean water.
Mukesh said: “I am so excited and grateful to have made it to the New Year’s Honours List. What a great start to 2022.”
Like Mukesh, Sarah Gardner was a recipient last year of the British Citizen Award. Sarah has set up three charities since the pandemic; Serving Our Superheroes, Well-being for All and recently CHEF – Community Health Education and Food Project.
Serving Our Superheroes was set up in response to the pandemic and has helped over 132,000 people with items worth a retail value of over £2 million.
CHEF is a non-profit organisation to end food poverty in Hillingdon. The sessions are designed to teach people about healthy eating and promote health, as well as teach people to cook on a budget, with the aim of helping to end food poverty.
Sarah, who is President of Elthorne-Hillingdon Rotary, said: I am so proud. It is great to get awards, but it is about the people that we help.
“There are so many people in need that we have been able to make a difference too, even just in a small way. Often the small things are a big help to people in need.”
Lisa Hunter was awarded the British Empire Medal after mobilising Maidenhead Bridge Rotary’s response to support households in the town. The 150 volunteers helped vulnerable people who were isolating during the pandemic with shopping and collecting prescriptions.
Such was the response to the project that former EastEnder’s star Ross Kemp visited Lisa’s home in 2020 to see the work that was going on for a BBC programme “Ross Kemp: Britain’s Volunteer Army”.
Last year, Lisa was also honoured by Rotary International with a Service Above Self award for her exemplary humanitarian service.
Lisa said: “I would just like to say a massive thank you to all the volunteers who made the project possible. Without them, we could not have supported so many people.
“I would also like to thank my husband Adam and daughter Chloe who supported me each week.
“It was very hard to keep news of the award a secret but well worth the wait to be able to tell my parents in person on New Year’s Day and to see their reaction.”
When Leicester Novus Rotarian Mark Esho first received an email to say he was being awarded an MBE for services to business, he ignored it.
“When I opened the email, I thought it was a scam,” he said. “An hour later, I decided to double check by analysing the email header. This is when I realised it was true.”
Mark, who has polio and uses a wheelchair, created a new social enterprise last year, called Access Rating, to promote access for disabled people. He has also written a book about his experiences in battling with polio called ‘I Can, I Will’.
Mark dedicated the award to his wife Diana, a fellow Rotarian. He said: “I am completely lost for words and very humbled. I would like to thank everyone who has supported me throughout my journey, but most importantly my rock and biggest supporter, Diana.
“She is on my side and by my side. She makes be me better, bigger and stronger.”
Stewart Colin Powell, who like Mark also suffers with polio, thought the envelope he received in November marked with On Her Majesty’s Service, was another parking ticket.
“I opened the envelope with trepidation as I had recently received a parking ticket for encroaching on two bays in order that my wheelchair could be brought around to the driver’s door,” he revealed.
“When I started to read the contents, my shaking turned to tears with the realisation of the award. I also felt sadness that my dear wife Anne was no longer here to share this momentous event in my life, having succumbed to cancer over four years ago.”
Colin, a member of Radlett Rotary in Hertfordshire, is a polio ambassador and also a magistrate. He was awarded the MBE for his polio work and services within the criminal justice system.
He added: “My hope is that by receiving this award will help raise the profile and importance of Rotary’s global ambition to totally eradicate polio.
“This is a campaign which I have worked passionately on for the last 12 years, since joining my local Radlett Rotary Club, coupled with also reflecting on us polio survivors for whom the vaccine arrived too late.”
Colin is continuing to promote his Zoom talks to Rotary clubs with the theme “Polio is more than a word” and he can be contacted by email.
Liz Barrett, who is principal of the Academy Transformation Trust Further Education College (ATTFE) in Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, has been awarded an OBE for services to education. Liz is a Past President of Sutton-in-Ashfield Rotary
Liz has worked in adult education for more than 20 years and became principal of ATTFE in 2016.
She said: “I feel incredibly grateful to be awarded the OBE. I am passionate and committed to lifelong learning and education on every level.
“I deeply believe it has the ability to support individuals to be the very best version of themselves through raising aspirations and opening up new opportunities.
“A heartfelt thank you to my dearest family, friends, amazing work colleagues and all of the wonderful community members I have had the pleasure and privilege to work alongside.
“A leader is nothing without their teams, and I am blessed to have the best.”
Mark Little, from Norwich St Edmund Rotary in Norfolk, has been awarded an MBE for services to modern slavery. Marl began his quest against organised crime in 2001 after watching a documentary on modern slavery.
Within four months, he had travelled to India to help victims of those being trafficked. That was the motivation he needed to become the founder and chairman of the Rotary Action Group Against Modern Slavery.
Mark told the Eastern Daily Press that he was shocked to receive news of the award.
He said: “It was entirely unexpected – it was such a shock, though a wonderful shock of course.
“This has just pushed me on to keep working and to keep pushing this crime up the agenda and get more people to become aware of it.
“I think that will be my next challenge. Rotary International has worked to eradicate polio and it will succeed.
“When we do need is to convince the organisation that modern slavery is a major issue which we need to be turning our attention to.”
Tim Swinyard, from Swindon Phoenix Rotary, received a British Empire Medal for his services to the community, particularly during the Covid pandemic. Tim, who is a councillor in the Wiltshire town, launched the Swindon Support Facebook group at the start of the pandemic.
Hundreds of volunteers got involved by helping isolated and vulnerable people with their shopping, collecting prescriptions and preparing PPE gear.
He told the Swindon Advertiser: “I found out about the honour when I was working from home and the difficult thing is that you obviously can’t tell anyone.
“I didn’t expect it at all. It was really touching and it was just an amazing feeling, although it equally belongs to all the volunteers who gave up their time.
“The group was incredibly busy at the height of the first and second waves because it was hard to book supermarket delivery slots.
“People in need are still posting on the Facebook group now and there are always volunteers on hand who offer their support instantly but it’s not as busy now which is a good thing.”
Tim is also a trustee of Dressability which produced PPE used by the NHS and care workers in Swindon.
He supported Swindon Domestic Abuse Support Service by applying for a £10,000 grant, as well as arranging food and clothing donations.
Alan Clifton, who is President of Middlesbrough Erimus Rotary in Cleveland, has been honoured with an MBE. Alan, who lives in Yarm, has been recognised for his services to children in care.
He is a former Virtual School Head at the National Association of Virtual School Heads which aims to improve educational outcomes for looked after children.
Long-standing Rotarian, Michael McEvoy, has been appointed an OBE for his services to the community in North Wales.
Michael, 87, is a second generation Rotarian who has been a member of Rhyl Rotary for 43 years.
A former journalist and broadcaster from Prestatyn, he has served as a trustee of the Dolanog residential care home, a registered charity in Rhyl, for more than 35 years.
Michael, who lives in Prestatyn with his wife Barbara, said: “I am, of course, both pleased and honoured to be appointed an OBE – an unexpected upgrade to the MBE I received in the 2008 New Year honours.
“I have no hesitation in again dedicating this award to my family, especially my wife Barbara, son Jonathan and daughter Rebecca, without whose unwavering support and unflagging affection, I could never have experienced the fulfilling life I have had.
“To the many colleagues, friends and acquaintances with whom I have been associated across Wales over the decades, my thanks to you all.”
Meanwhile, 12-year-old Max Woosey, who was a Rotary Young Citizen Award winner in 2021, has been awarded the British Empire Medal.
The North Devon youngster has raised almost £700,000 for the North Devon Hospice by sleeping out in a tent every night since March 2020.