Leading figures from the worlds of politics and sport are among the people from West Norfolk to be recognised in the New Year’s Honours list, which has been published tonight.
North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham has been knighted for political service, while former world Ironman triathlon champion Chrissie Wellington, from Feltwell, has been awarded an OBE.
First elected in 1983, Sir Henry, a former Foreign Office minister, won his seventh term in the House of Commons at May’s general election and admitted being shocked by the award.
He said: “I am hugely humbled and flattered by it. You don’t go into politics to have something like this happen to you. You do it because you have a sense of commitment to the constituency.
“I love the work. It’s all-consuming. It takes over your life and it’s something you’re committed to the whole time. I feel a sense of great privilege.”
Sir Henry initially represented the constituency until 1997, when he was defeated by George Turner during Labour’s landslide victory under Tony Blair.
But he regained the seat four years later and won his seventh term in office at the general election last May.
And he said his greatest debt was to the voters of the constituency he has represented for 28 years.
He said: “Without their votes I wouldn’t have been able to pursue the career I have and the career I’ve loved. I have a huge debt of gratitude.”
Ms Wellington, a four-time world Ironman champion who gave birth to her first child earlier this month, has been honoured for services to sport and charity.
Now based in Bristol, she has worked for Parkrun UK, which organises a host of community running events across the UK including in Lynn, since 2013 and is currently its head of participation.
It is the second time she has been honoured by the Queen, having received the MBE in 2010.
Martin Lawrence, from Downham, has been made an MBE in recognition of his work with crime prevention charity Crimestoppers in Northamptonshire, while the chairman of Lynn’s Talking Newspaper group, David Gifford, has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM).
He has led the organisation, which delivers recordings of local news to blind and partially sighted people across West Norfolk and celebrated its 35th anniversary earlier this month, for the past two years.
He has also chaired the 21st King’s Lynn Scouts for the last 15 years, is a steward at the London Road Methodist Church and was a member of the town’s Lions club for 30 years, including three spells as its president.
Mr Gifford said the letter informing him of the honour had arrived the week after he and his wife Jo celebrated their golden wedding anniversary.
He said: “It’s absolutely fantastic, but the Talking Newspaper is a team effort. It’s a recognition of the value of the Talking Newspaper in this society.”
Elsewhere, the chief constable of Norfolk Police, Simon Bailey, has been awarded the Queen’s Police Medal for distinguished service.
Keven Dunger, a senior stud hand at the Royal Studs, and Daren Palmer, a gardener on the Sandringham Estate, have each received a silver Royal Victorian Medal (RVM).