FOR the Yorkshire community champions honoured by the Queen today, loyal individuals like churchwarden Pauline Foster whose tireless efforts have made such a difference to the rural parish of Thixendale, their Royal recognition could not be more deserved, or overdue.
Their commitment, sadly taken for granted by so many, contributes enormously to the fabric and vitality of the nation. The sense of duty that drives the recipients of these honours also pre-dates the 'Big Society' – the concept which David Cameron intends to define his government. Yet, given that this is the first New Year Honours list of Mr Cameron's premiership, it is disappointing that the powers-that-be have chosen not to reward even more community heroes, like the couple going the extra mile to help visitors in the Dales village of Burnsall.
Honours lists under New Labour were certainly biased towards celebrities and those career bureaucrats who are honoured because of their fame or the position that they reach within the State sector – and this trend does not appear to have been checked. And while, indeed, some of these recipients are meritorious, there will be incredulity that some politicians feature prominently – and that British Airways chairman Martin Broughton is knighted at the end of a month that has seen the travel plans of thousands ruined because of the weather.
Perhaps he should have devoted more time to improving his airline's bad weather contingency plans rather than overseeing the sale of crisis-hit Liverpool Football Club where he was chairman until recently – and then his knighthood might have been justifiable.
If Mr Cameron wants a sense of community and volunteering to flourish, he should enjoy that future lists give far greater prominence to those proud heroes who give so much for free - and without complaint. For, without them, Britain would be a lesser country.