Hillsborough campaigners among those honoured by the Queen

The great and the good have been honoured by the Queen in her New Year’s Honours with the sons and daughters of the White Rose county featuring strongly in those bestowed with prestigious recognition.

Hillsborough justice campaigner Trevor Hicks who has been awarded a CBE.

More than 70 individuals in Yorkshire were publically revealed late last night among this year’s recipients, but there was no honour for Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive, Gary Verity, the man credited with playing a vital role with bringing the Grand Départ of the summer’s Tour de France to the county.

Mr Verity told The Yorkshire Post back in July that he was not expecting to receive an honour, despite several social media campaigns demanding one.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Not that the region’s ability to achieve the coup of bringing the cycle race to Yorkshire was overlooked. The event’s project co-ordinator for Leeds Council, Peter Smith, is awarded an MBE for services to sports development in the city and for his work on helping stage the spectacular cycling showpiece.

Among the many worthy recipients was Settle-based Trevor Hicks. Both he and Margaret Aspinall, of the Hillsborough Family Support Group (HFSG), are awarded CBEs in recognition of their tireless campaigning on behalf of those bereaved by the disaster in 1989.

Mrs Aspinall, who lost her son James, 18, in the tragedy, and Mr Hicks, whose daughters Sarah, 19, and Victoria, 15, also died, have been honoured for services to the families of the 96 Liverpool fans crushed to death on April 15, 1989.

Mrs Aspinall, chairman of the HFSG, and Mr Hicks, president of the group, were the driving force in a decades-long legal battle ending with the quashing of earlier inquest verdicts and the holding of the currently on-going new inquests.

Both spoke of mixed feelings after what Mrs Aspinall called the “long, long struggle” for justice from the authorities who were now 25 years later bestowing titles on them.

But they also said attitudes were finally changing after the “mud flung” and “stigma” attached to the Hillsborough disaster.

Mrs Aspinall, from Liverpool, said: “I feel so humble about it, I really do.

“Obviously I thought it was an absolutely lovely thing to be linked with, the Honours list, to be associated with, but at the same time it was a dichotomy.

“We are at the inquests at the moment and to me that’s the most important thing, so I was in a dilemma - do you accept or do you not accept? Because so many people were involved in all this.

“It’s not just about Trevor Hicks and Margaret Aspinall, it’s about everybody involved in this. It’s all about the people who stood by us.”

Mr Hicks said: “Awarding the honour of a CBE shows how much tide of opinion has changed and is further acknowledgement of the wrongs of the past and the 25 years hard work we have all had putting things right.”

There was an OBE for actress Sheridan Smith, who has come a long way since launching her acting career by joining her parents’ country and western duo on stage as they gigged in pubs and clubs around her native Lincolnshire.

Her career really took off in 2011 when her performance in the musical Legally Blonde won her an Olivier Award.

The 33-year-old said: “I’m sincerely thankful and humbled to be recognised with such an honour. I’m overwhelmed and hope to continue doing the work that I love for many years to come.”

In total, some 1,164 people have received an award.

Three quarters of recipients are recognised for outstanding work in their community.

Six per cent are from ethnic minorities, while 45 per cent of the senior awards - CBE and above - are given to women, a jump of 10 per cent compared with the Queen’s Birthday Honours list issued earlier this year.

The most senior recipient was 103-­year-­old runner Fauja Singh. He is a keen charity supporter and champion for Age UK, and is widely recognised as the oldest marathon runner in the world. He receives a British Empire Medal.