AN ENTREPRENEUR who saved a traditional sawmill and ensured the continuation of a rural skill that spans generations is among the region’s proud recipients of New Year honours... as well as a former Huddersfield Town footballer who made his name with Manchester United.
On a whim, Emma Woods bought up Duncombe Sawmill in Helmsley, North Yorkshire when the loss-making enterprise looked destined for closure in 2003. Six years later she was making a profit and now the mill’s huge range of handcrafted wooden fixtures are selling not just UK wide but also across the continent as far as Scandinavia.
In recognition of her services to rural business and skills, Mrs Woods, 48, of Kirkbymoorside, is made an MBE in The Queen’s New Year’s Honours – a list which also sees recognition for a number of high-profile individuals in Yorkshire, including Doncaster MP Rosie Winterton and former Huddersfield Town footballer Denis Law.
Mrs Woods said: “I was completely taken aback. I’m very excited and incredibly honoured.”
“I tried to run my leadership in a different, quiet way. I have met far too many leaders who consider themselves to be the boss, even some who consider themselves to be dictators. It is not like that at all. It is about being captain of a team. You don’t necessarily need to be the best player, leadership is about surrounding yourself with the best people.”John Weighell
To safeguard the sawmill’s future, Mrs Woods combined the traditions of the original sawmill with investment in state-of-the-art equipment. Her team of craftsmen use mostly local timber sourced from a 25-mile radius.
“I have been so very lucky to have such incredibly loyal customers and members of staff,” she said.
Law, now 75, played for Manchester United between 1962 and 1973, winning two league titles with the club in 1965 and 1967 and the FA Cup in 1963 as one third of the club’s ‘Holy Trinity’ alongside fellow stars Sir Bobby Charlton and the late George Best.
He was named European Footballer of the Year in 1964 but was ruled out by injury for the European Cup final in 1968, which United won by beating Benfica 4-1 at Wembley.
Law began his career at Huddersfield before joining Manchester City for a British record transfer fee in 1960. He moved to Italian side Torino in 1961 and was then enticed back to Manchester by United boss Sir Matt Busby after struggling to adapt to life in Serie A.
In addition to his success at club level, Law also won 55 senior caps for Scotland, scoring a joint-record 30 goals. Despite all his achievements with United he described receiving his first senior Scotland call-up in 1958 as the greatest moment of his career.
“I was at Huddersfield Town at the time and was walking down the street,” he said. “There was a bloke selling the local newspaper, the Huddersfield Examiner. Matter-of-factly, he told me I had been picked by Scotland.
“I could hardly believe it. It almost took my breath away. As far as I am concerned, there is no higher honour than representing your country. It would be fair to say I was absolutely overjoyed.”
Community champions and local political heavyweights spearhead an impressive list of individuals from Yorkshire who are celebrated by The Queen in her New Year’s Honours.
Opposition chief whip Rosie Winterton has been awarded a damehood for political and parliamentary service, having served since 1997 as the Labour Party’s MP for Doncaster Central.
The former leader of North Yorkshire County Council, John Weighell, receives an OBE, and so too does the former Leeds City Council leader Keith Wakefield.
Councillor Wakefield, who is chairman of the transport committee at West Yorkshire Combined Authority, was first elected to Leeds City Council in 1988 and receives an OBE for political service and services to local government.
County Councillor John Weighell, who stepped down as leader of North Yorkshire County Council in May after almost 14 years, continues to represent Bedale on the county council, and has received his award for his achievements during his years of public service.
He described the role of council leader as one of the best jobs in local government, adding: “It’s humbling to have this honour bestowed on me, but I hope what the honour really recognises is the success story of North Yorkshire. I have done my best to contribute to this over the years, but it is really the story of the efforts of many people, my council colleagues, officers and the people of North Yorkshire.”
He said it was his experience as a school governor and a volunteer in youth work, and his respect for the local education authority, that initially steered him towards becoming a county councillor in 1993.
Mr Weighell said: “I tried to run my leadership in a different, quiet way. I have met far too many leaders who consider themselves to be the boss, even some who consider themselves to be dictators. It is not like that at all. It is about being captain of a team. You don’t necessarily need to be the best player, leadership is about surrounding yourself with the best people.”
In South Yorkshire, there is an MBE for Zlakha Ahmed, the chief executive of women’s rights organisation Apna Haq, for services to women’s rights and community cohesion in Rotherham.
Ms Ahmed, 52, founded the charity 21 years ago when she became determined to address what she saw as a lack of support for women suffering from domestic violence.
Over the last two decades, she is credited with having particularly affect the lives of thousands of Black Asian and minority ethnic women and girls locally by improving their access to safe accommodation, education, legal advice and social activities to prevent isolation.
Her project, which supports 45 women each week, has resulted in more women contacting the police and disclosing abuse, and since 2011 she has worked tirelessly to highlight the sexual exploitation of girls in Rotherham.
“It’s really good to know that the work I’m so passionate about has been recognised,” she said. “It’s a missing voice, that of black Muslim women, and I’m grateful I have had the opportunity to do this work.”
As a member of the Domestic Violence Working Group for the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, Ms Ahmed has also contributed towards their guidance aimed to help identify, prevent and reduce domestic violence and abuse, in health and social care.
The efforts of individuals to improve the prospects of both young and older people are also celebrated in the Yorkshire recipients of New Year’s honours.
It is a case of the former for the ex-vice-chancellor of Leeds Beckett University, Professor Susan Price who awaits a date with The Queen to receive a CBE.
Prof Price, of Wetherby, is bestowed with the honour for services to higher education, having been credited by many for turning around the then named Leeds Metropolitan University.
As the institution’s first female vice chancellor when she joined in January 2010, the university’s finances, performance and staff morale were all being called into question but she left the university with its reputation restored.
On the other hand, care for the elderly has been the speciality of Priscilla Kealy of Ripon for decades.
Mrs Kealy, 73, receives an MBE for services to the community having given outstanding service to the almshouse residents and historic chapels of Ripon, as well as 33 years as a magistrate in the cathedral city.
She has served for the past 10 years as a clerk and trustee to the Hospitals Almshouses and Chapels Trusts, entirely on a voluntary basis.
In recent years she has overseen three sets of 19th century almshouses, accommodating 17 elderly residents, together with two chapels.
She is well known in Ripon and in her village community where she has served as church warden to North Stainley Church for over 40 years and she also finds time to work on the committee of the local Red Cross and as a contributor to Yoredale News.
She is also a governor of North Stainley School.
Mrs Kealy said she was taken aback at receiving notification from the Cabinet Office.
“My work has been tremendously enjoyable and I’ve been very lucky having the time to do it and the husband and family around me to do it,” she said.
Other Yorkshire honours go to...
• There is an MBE for construction professional Clare Harrigan, a former chairman of the board of governors at Leeds College of Building.
Ms Harrigan, 46, of Collingham, near Wetherby, is bestowed with the honour for services to further education and the construction industry.
Throughout her career, she has specialised in affordable housing development and delivery, and has held head of construction roles at both the College and Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust.
At the latter, she played a key role in delivering an award-winning development of more than 500 homes with David Wilson Homes at New Earswick, near York. Forty per cent of the homes were affordable properties and the project was hailed for its high design standards, its mixed community and green credentials – with a biomass boiler system used throughout to provide heating.
Describing her honour as “overwhelming”, Ms Harrigan, who now works at Shipley-based housing association Incommunities, is passionate about opening up the industry to women.
“There are so many different roles needed to deliver housing and I have tried to open their eyes a little bit to that,” she said.
• Mary Brewer, 77, of Wetherby, has been awarded a British Empire Medal for services to crime prevention in West Yorkshire.
As the longest-serving volunteer for West Yorkshire Police, Mrs Brewer has headed up her Wetherby Neighbourhood Watch scheme for more than 30 years.
She was only the second person to register a group with the force when she did so in 1985 – just three years after Britain’s first Neighbourhood Watch group was set up in Cheshire.
As a volunteer, she has also chaired the force’s Crime Prevention Panel (CPP) for the past 25 years and is currently the force’s representative on the National Neighbourhood Watch Committee, attending six-weekly national meetings. She also chairs the Yorkshire and Humber regional meetings.
Her biggest success, as chairman of the CPP, is the Locks Project which involved selling more secure replacement UPVC locks to standard ones.
As a Police Volunteer she has assisted at her local police station in Wetherby and she also gives talks to interested groups.
“I’m very proud and very honoured,” Mrs Brewer said. “I’m concerned about crime and the police need all the help they can get.”
• Margaret Dawson, 68, of Boroughbridge, receives an MBE for services to Hambleton District Show and to charity for more than 20 years. As a chief organiser, she has seen the event held near York grow to become one of the largest horse shows in the country.
Two military men with decades of services to the Reserve Forces’ & Cadets’ Association for Yorkshire and The Humber have been honoured.
Retired Col Carron Snagge, chief executive of RFCA, receives an OBE in recognition of his work, while David Davies, chairman of the organisation’s regional employer engagement group receives an MBE. Describing his honour as “a wonderful surprise”, Mr Davies said: “Cadets and adult instructors, reservists and ex-regulars all have had experience and training which transfer directly into the workplace.
“The cost of similar training in the commercial world puts it out of reach for many employers.”
• Health worker Paula Phillips’ work with young offenders experiencing mental health issues has earned her an MBE. Ms Phillips, of Wakefield, works for South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s forensic child and adolescent mental health service and manages The Yorkshire Centre for Forensic Psychiatry.
• Asad Razzaq, 32, receives an MBE for services to young people and the community. As voluntary leader of Community Action to Change Harehills, Leeds, he unites young people from Muslim communities with Roma, Czech and Polish groups to tackle crime, community tension and opportunities for young people.
• East Yorkshire’s Samantha Barlow receives a BEM for services to fitness having helped hundreds of people take up running and walking since founding Fitmums & Friends in 2009. Mrs Barlow, 49, of Cottingham near Hull, set up the venture after five mothers responded to an invite in school book-bags to meet her for a run.