Dame Barbara Windsor ‘very honoured and humbled’

Veteran actress Barbara Windsor has said she is “so very honoured, proud and extremely humbled” to be awarded a damehood in the New Year’s Honours.
Barbara Windsor with Shirley Bassey in 2000 when she received her MBE at the Palace as Bassey became a Dame. Picture: PABarbara Windsor with Shirley Bassey in 2000 when she received her MBE at the Palace as Bassey became a Dame. Picture: PA
Barbara Windsor with Shirley Bassey in 2000 when she received her MBE at the Palace as Bassey became a Dame. Picture: PA

She is one of a host of stars of stage and screen to be recognised in the list, including fellow east Londoner turned Hollywood star Idris Elba, who said receiving an OBE made him “beyond proud”.

Celebrated thespian Sian Phillips is also made a dame, while Imelda Staunton receives a CBE, and actors David Oyelowo and James Nesbitt get OBEs.

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Sporting stars are also well represented, with a knighthood for champion jockey Tony McCoy, former motorsports star John Surtees and footballers Denis Law and Francis Lee receiving CBEs, and two-times Tour de France winner cyclist Chris Froome and snooker player Ronnie O’Sullivan handed OBEs.

Windsor, who first appeared on stage at the tender age of 13 before rising to fame in the Carry On films, is recognised for services to charity and entertainment.

She said: “For a girl from the East End born into a working class family and an evacuee during the Second World War, this is truly like a dream. I am so happy and blessed to say it’s real.”

After achieving fame in cult crime drama The Wire, Elba has gone on to star in blockbusters such as Prometheus and took the lead as Nelson Mandela in the biographical film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

The actor, who was brought up in Hackney, east London, and has a Sierra Leonean father and Ghanaian mother, said: “Awards and honours come in all shapes and sizes and all as significant as the other but this is beyond special, as it comes from Queen and country and I couldn’t be more proud for receiving this right now, what a year... On me head son.”

Nesbitt, who is recognised for services to acting and to Northern Ireland following years of work helping families affected by the Troubles, said: “I’ve been very blessed with my work and very blessed to come from Northern Ireland and for those two things to be on the citation was really rather gratifying.”

Sports commentator Sue Barker receives an OBE, while sports broadcaster Jacqui Oatley, who became the first female commentator on Match Of The Day, is awarded an MBE.

Other prominent names to be recognised include celebrated choreographer Matthew Bourne, who gets a knighthood along with former TV journalist Martyn Lewis, who is recognised for his charity work.

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The music industry is represented by Damon Albarn, who since shooting to fame with Blur in the early 90s, has enjoyed success with several other acts and receives an OBE, while an MBE has been awarded to Clifford Price – more commonly known as Goldie – for his contribution to the music, TV and film industry and his work with a number of charities.

He said he “ran to the arts, because the arts are the one thing that would never abandon me”.

As in other years, the honours list has been beset by leaks, with Windsor and McCoy named as recipients some days ago while controversy over a knighthood for Lynton Crosby, David Cameron’s general election strategist, also hit the headlines.

The list sees several leading business figures awarded for their efforts in boosting the UK economy, including damehoods for easyJet chief executive Carolyn McCall and the founder of high fashion website Net-A-Porter Natalie Massenet, while Ann Summers chief executive Jacqueline Gold receives the CBE.

Many Britons are celebrated for their efforts in the fight against the Ebola epidemic in west Africa, including a knighthood for Dr Michael Jacobs, clinical lead in infectious diseases at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, who treated nurses Pauline Cafferkey, Will Pooley and Anna Cross.

CBEs also go to Dr Timothy Brooks, head of the Rare and Imported Pathogens Laboratory at Public Health England, and Professor Christopher Bulstrode, Emeritus Professor at Green Templeton College, Oxford, and volunteer for Doctors of the World, while Grace Jackson, Sierra Leone Programme Manager at the Department for International Development (DFID) gets an OBE.

Many more are recognised for their work in helping others, including philanthropists Clive Cowdery, who founded the Resolution Foundation in 2005 and receives a knighthood alongside Jack Petchey, who has contributed more than £100 million since he established his foundation in 1999, which benefits young people in east London and Essex.

The New Year’s Honour list 2016 sees a total of 1,196 people receive an award, more than three-quarters of whom are recognised for outstanding work in their communities, either in a voluntary or paid capacity.