THE Hillsborough campaigner Trevor Hicks will have received notification of his CBE with the heaviest of hearts.
This, after all, is a parent who was only thrust into the public spotlight when his teenage daughters, Sarah and Vicky, were among the 96 football fans killed at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final.
Yet few accolades in the New Year Honours list will be more humbling than the awards conferred on Mr Hicks, who lives in Settle, and Margaret Aspinall, the current chairman of the Hillsborough Family Support Group. For the past 25 years, they have led the campaign for justice with dignity and resilience.
Their steadfastness was vindicated when David Cameron issued an unprecedented apology to Parliament for the cover-up as a new inquest was ordered into Britain’s worst sporting disaster. It is thanks to Mr Hicks, Mrs Aspinall and countless others that the families of ‘the 96’ can now walk on, to paraphrase the Liverpool FC anthem, You’ll Never Walk Alone, with hope in their hearts.
As Mr Hicks said, he has only been doing what any other parent would have done in the circumstances and the CBE shows how much the “tide of public opinion” has turned.
In many respects, perseverance is the theme of the honours list with so many public-spirited individuals across Yorkshire rewarded for decades of unstinting service to their local community.
It would also be remiss not to acknowledge those ‘celebrities’ who have used their profile to champion the less fortunate. Dame Esther Rantzen is a case in point. The inspirational founder of ChildLine, she instigated The Silver Line, a helpline for older people which has received 300,000 calls in its first year.
Without such organisations, cries of help from many people would go unanswered and Britain would be a much poorer place.