New Year Honours for Scots leading fight against pandemic

Scotland’s medical chiefs and community heroes have been honoured for their work during the pandemic in the New Year Honours List, which also saw the Queen knight former Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith has been given a knighthood for his work during the Covid-19 crisis, alongside England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, deputy CMO, Jonathan Van-Tam, and Welsh CMO Frank Atherton.

Meanwhile, Paul Fairie, head of operations at the Lighthouse Laboratory in Glasgow – one of Scotland’s main testing labs - has received an OBE, as well as Dr Syed Ahmed, clinical Director at Health Protection Scotland, for services to the Covid-19 vaccination programme. A further nine Scots have also been honoured for their work relating to the pandemic.

Scottish athletes, business people and scientists were also among those given honours in this year’s list, while from the world of showbiz Joanna Lumley has been made a dame and Daniel Craig has been handed the same honour as his fictional alter ego James Bond received in the character’s books and films. Meanwhile, former prime minister Sir Tony is knighted with the highest possible ranking.

Great Britain's Kathleen Dawson slips as she pushes off the wall on the first leg of the Mixed 4 x 100m medley relay during the swimming event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan last summer.

Sir Tony, who held the keys to Number 10 between 1997 and 2007, said it was an “immense honour” to have been made a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, the oldest and most senior British Order of Chivalry, to which appointments are in the Queen’s gift without advice from the Government.

On the UK list, there are also damehoods for UK Health Security Agency chief Dr Jenny Harries, and Dr June Raine, chief executive of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), after a year in which the threat of new variants arose and more than 130 million vaccinations were administered. The UK Government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, who was originally knighted in the 2019 New Year Honours list, has been elevated to a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath.

GP Dr Smith had been Scotland’s deputy chief medical officer from 2015 to April 2020, when he took over from predecessor Dr Catherine Calderwood after photos showing her breaking coronavirus travel rules to visit her second home resulted in resignation.

In his role, Dr Smith has advised the Scottish Government on its public health response to the Covid-19 pandemic and attended Covid-19 press briefings to answer questions from the media.

He said he was he was “surprised and honoured” to have been made a Knight Bachelor.

He added: “This means a huge amount to me but it is a reflection of the work that a good number of us have undertaken during the course of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I want to thank everyone who I have worked with, in the Scottish Government and associated organisations, for their contribution to this response.

“It is a privilege and a pleasure to serve as the chief medical officer for Scotland. As we face further challenges ahead, I especially want to thank my colleagues across the country for their professionalism, their support and their commitment to caring for the people of Scotland.”

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon paid tribute to those honoured in this year’s list.

She said: “The Queen’s New Year Honours list illustrates the outstanding contributions of those across Scotland who have made a difference to their communities throughout the country and beyond.

“From those who work in the arts and music, community and charity, to those who have excelled in the fields of science and medicine, these Honours highlight truly exceptional service to the people of Scotland. I am particularly delighted to see Scotland’s athletes who excelled at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo so well represented.”

She added: “I’m also pleased to see those individuals who continue to do so much to help us in our fight against Covid receive the recognition they so richly deserve. We are all incredibly grateful for their selfless efforts and actions during a hugely challenging time, and it’s right that their outstanding contributions have been acknowledged in this way.”

“I also want to extend my congratulations to those personnel who have been awarded The Queen’s Fire, Police or Ambulance Service Medals. Our emergency services have displayed incredible fortitude throughout the pandemic, and deserve our continued appreciation for keeping people and communities across Scotland safe, every day of the year.”

Meanwhile, Liz Cameron, director of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce, was awarded a CBE for services to the Promotion of Scotland and UK International Trade, while SCC president, Tim Allen, who is also chair of the V&A museum in Dundee and a private equity and property entrepreneur through his investment business Tricorn Capital, also receives a CBE for Services to Business, Charity and the Arts.

Mr Allen said: “Contributing to the business, arts and culture sectors has been a privilege and I am thrilled to receive such extraordinary recognition.”

Ms Cameron, who was given an OBE in 2013, said: “I am so proud of how Scottish businesses and the Scottish Chambers of Commerce Network have continued to forge ahead. This award is a tribute to all businesses who, even in times of crisis, push the boundaries of innovation and trade, and continue to seize the opportunities.”

The Queen’s Police medal was given to Judith Heaton, assistant chief constable of Police Scotland, for her 30 years work with the police, as well as chief superintendent Louise Blakelock and chief inspector Marlene Baillie. Patrick O’Meara, of the Scottish Ambulance Service, will receive The Queen’s Ambulance Service Medal.

Norman Loch Murray, former chairman of Scottish Ballet, received a CBE for services to the arts.

Other knighthoods have been awarded to long-serving former Glasgow MP Tommy McAvoy for his political and public service.

Lord McAvoy, who was the MP for Glasgow Rutherglen from 1987 to 2010, spent much of his time at Westminster with roles in the Labour Party’s whips office, serving in both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s governments.

Former Ayr MSP John Scott is also being made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire after 21 years at Holyrood.

Mr Scott, 70, was first elected as the area’s Conservative MSP in a 2000 byelection, holding the seat in four subsequent elections.

Team GB’s Olympians and Paralympians who took gold in Tokyo are among those named, including cyclists Jason and Laura Kenny, who are thought to be the first married couple to be recognised on the same honours list. Scotland's Olympians and Paralympians, including gold medallist swimmers Duncan Scott and Kathleen Dawson – the first Scottish woman to win gold in the pool in 109 years - and runner Owen Miller, were also honoured.

Former chairman of St Johnstone, the businessman Geoffrey Brown, who rescued the football club from financial difficulty in 1986 has been made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to Scottish Football and to the community in Perth.

Teenage tennis star Emma Raducanu, who won the US Open in September, was named a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) – shortly after picking up the title of Sports Personality of the Year.

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: “From people on the frontline of the fight against Covid and community champions, to those who have made exceptional contributions to sporting and cultural life, Her Majesty’s New Year’s Honours are testament to Scotland’s wealth of talent, ambition and kindness.

“Whether in the Lighthouse Lab in Glasgow or looking after mental health in the community, Scots across the nation have played their part in supporting the country during the pandemic. I’m delighted that Dr Roderick MacKenzie, a Glasgow University graduate, is being honoured for his outstanding contribution to public health as Chief Development Officer at Pfizer. His work to support vaccination has doubtless helped save countless lives around the world."

He described the Scottish Olympic athletes given honours as “an inspiration to us all”.

He added: “It’s also fantastic to see the dedication of Scotland’s unsung heroes being recognised, with community leaders from Berwickshire to Caithness receiving awards. I'm particularly pleased that Tim Allan is being honoured for his business and voluntary contributions to Dundee, including as Chair of V&A Dundee since 2019, which have been truly transformational."

In entertainment, Craig was given a special diplomatic honour after his final outing as James Bond in No Time To Die.

The departing 007 is made a companion of the Order of St Michael and St George – which is styled CMG and was also conferred on the fictional spy in the film series and Ian Fleming’s books.

Actresses Joanna Lumley and Vanessa Redgrave are to be made dames, while James Bond franchise producer Barbara Broccoli will be made a CBE.

Lumley, who is being honoured for services to drama, entertainment and art, said: “I am astonished and thrilled and touched beyond words to receive this colossal honour.

“It comes as a complete and unexpected surprise, and is the kindest and most beautiful present imaginable.”

Diversity member Ashley Banjo and former Spice Girl Mel B are both to be made an MBE.

The comedian Adam Hills, who is also to be made an MBE, said: “I am absolutely chuffed to bits to be given this honour. I’ve already Googled ‘Australian comedians who have received honours’, ‘when can I start writing MBE after my name?’ and ‘are Australians even eligible for an MBE?’.

“Turns out the answers are ‘Barry Humphries and Clive James, ‘when you receive the medal’ and ‘yes’.”

This year’s New Year Honours List has 15.1 per cent of recipients coming from an ethnic minority background, making it for the fourth time running, the most ethnically diverse honours list to date.

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