New Year Honours 2022: Yorkshire's everyday pandemic heroes who have been given MBE and British Empire Medals

Some of Yorkshire's everyday pandemic heroes have been given New Year's Honours in the 2022 list.

This year MBE gongs and the British Empire Medal have gone to ordinary people as well as civic dignitaries and business leaders.

They include a hotel manager from Wetherby who persuaded the Best Western chain to give its space over to the NHS for extra Covid-19 wards and a Rotherham Council catering manager who organised meals for vulnerable children when schools were closed.

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Oldest boxing gym in Hull in £200,000 appeal
Head coach Michael Bromby at St Paul's Boxing Academy in Hull

The co-founder of Bradford Literature Festival, an inspirational coach who runs Hull's oldest boxing club and a dance teacher in her 80s who gave free Zoom classes during lockdown are also honoured.

Two campaigners who founded charities that help vulnerable women are on the list, as is a Transpennine railway worker who volunteers with the Samaritans and a teacher who set up a specialist music school.

And there are sporting stars honoured too, including Leeds Rhinos legend Jamie Jones-Buchanan, wheelchair rugby star Jamie Stead and martial arts champion Vanda Fairchild.

Here are some of their stories:-

Bradford Literature Festival co-founder Syima Aslam

Barbara Peters, from Greetland, Halifax - the dance teacher still taking classes at 83

Barbara Peters has been awarded the British Empire Medal for services to dancing.

She is a ballet teacher and retired examiner for the Royal Academy of Dance who has been teaching for 66+ years. During Covid-19 she gave free dance classes online via Zoom to a wide international audience.

Her virtual international class has not only kept people physically fit but has been vital and indispensable in maintaining their mental wellbeing and participants included NHS workers.

Belinda Rickerby (back, standing) works in hospitality at Huddersfield Town Hall

She attended the Royal Academy of Dance to train as a teacher in 1956 and opened her own school in 1962.

In 2019, at 80 years old, she performed on The Greatest Dancer and went on to appear on national TV. At 81 she completed her Grade 8 and is now teaching Silver Swans and the Discovering Repertoire levels.

She is also the co-founder of the international company Baby Ballet, which she set up with her daughter in order to inspire the next generation of ballet dancers - and which has grown to become one of the UK’s leading pre-school dance brands.

Richard Holliday, from Huddersfield - the railway worker and mental health campaigner

Dance teacher Barbara Peters, 83, from Greetland

The 47-year-old has spent 17 years working for Transpennine Express as their learning and development manager.

He has been awarded the British Empire Medal for services to mental health.

He volunteers with his local Samaritans, where he is a trustee as well as doing regular weekly shifts, answering phone calls and providing life-saving support to those that need it.

Using his experience, he has been a strong advocate in raising awareness about fatalities on the railway and the impact that this can have upon those within the industry.

He has developed and continues to deliver suicide prevention training to colleagues across the business and provides trauma support where required.

Alongside his Samaritans work, from 2013-2019 he volunteered with Kirklees Council as an Appropriate Adult for 10-17-year-olds in police custody.

Normanton wheelchair rugby star Jamie Stead

He has a great affinity with young people and helps to inspire and support them, something that he also does through his support of the Duke of Edinburgh scheme.

Transpennine regularly takes on apprentices, who have to complete their DofE as part of this training.

He has been a real key player in supporting colleagues and their wellbeing since the start of the Covid-19 restrictions in March 2020. He works alongside the communications team to provide wellbeing support and advice and set up daily Zoom 'elevenses' for all colleagues to dial into, with a particular focus on those who lived alone or who were isolating.

Belinda Rickerby, from Kirklees - the town hall tea lady who formed a partnership with alcohol abuse charity

The 59-year-old has worked for Kirklees Council's town hall hospitality service for 25 years and has now been awarded the British Empire Medal for services to the community after forming a new partnership during the pandemic.

She has been assisting the work of ‘Choices for Health in Addiction Recovery and Treatment’ (CHART), a commissioned local service that supports people with substance misuse problems. CHART identified that numerous people would be at risk of acute alcohol withdrawal, seizures and hospital admissions due to lockdown closures that would prevent access to alcohol.

Using the stock from the council hospitality provisions, she donated supplies to food banks and organised for the alcohol from town hall bars to be supplied to CHART, for free or at a low cost.

She personally delivered supplies to CHART within 24 hours to ensure needs were met. She liaised with CHART’s lead nurse and took on the responsibility of dispensing alcohol into measured doses for each person, which took high pressures away from the charity’s nurses.

Her rapid response allowed CHART to deliver to vulnerable service users immediately, one of whom was close to a potential seizure.

Her pivotal contribution prevented numerous beneficiaries becoming acutely unwell and being admitted to the overloaded hospitals and avoided distress and associated risks of Covid-19 transmission.

Ian McPherson, from Harrogate - the Army music tutor who inspires students struggling in mainstream education

There is a British Empire Medal for services to education for the 59-year-old, who runs Percussive Edge.

He has dedicated his life to help people of all ages achieve their musical ambitions and has helped many of his students who struggling with their education.

His students have used these skills to benefit the community by playing at events to raise funds for charity.

He has a career as a bandmaster in the Army Military Music arena and became one of the youngest service personnel to be awarded the coveted Bandmaster qualification at the age of 27.

He volunteered to perform at music events for the charities Royal Star and Garter and the Royal British Legion, bringing enjoyment to the lives of veterans who were suffering from dementia or other related conditions.

In 1999, he set up his own percussion group, teaching hundreds of students about drumming techniques.

He has been particularly successful at teaching special needs students who had been denied access to learning music in their everyday curriculum, and adapts his training materials for them.

He spends countless hours outside of official lessons supporting young aspiring musicians by preparing bespoke lesson plans for free whilst helping other teachers access his training materials available at no cost. These resources are widely respected by the international Percussive Arts Society.

He has written and arranged specific pieces for a student who subsequently raised over £70,000 for local charities and who would not have done so without Ian’s guidance and teaching.

Many students have gone on to achieve international acclaim and recognition including two former pupils named as Young Drummer of the Year finalists.

Angela Blower, from Redcar - the school cook turned catering manager who has improved the diets of Teesside children

The 59-year-old has just retired as catering manager for Middlesbrough Council with a British Empire Medal for services to education.

She has ensured countless young people have received healthy, nutritious meals over the last 43 years.

She joined the local authority straight from school as a trainee cook in September 1978, spending her evenings studying for her City & Guilds and catering qualifications.

She has been catering manager for 24 years; in that time the team have served more than 11,000 meals each school day.

This in turn led to her and her team winning twice Gold awards within the region for initiatives in promoting healthy foods and choices, acting as a role model to other businesses locally.

Andrew Denton, from Wetherby - the hotel manager who turned Best Westerns into Covid field hospitals

The 47-year-old has been made MBE for his charitable services to the NHS while he was head of hotels for Best Western.

In March 2020, he persuaded the company, which owns 300 hotels, to offer Covid-19 support to the NHS by turning them into field hospitals.

He offered 16,000 rooms to the NHS and kept 80 hotels open to help NHS staff, key workers and the vulnerable. Turning hotels into field hospitals enabled the NHS to help take less urgent patients away from critical care beds and emergency wards.

His initiative led to hotels becoming hospitals for the first time since the war.

His innovation in this area led to the creation of a new not-for-profit organisation ‘ProcessC-19’ bringing together clinical care and logistics experts and hospitality providers to be in a position to help support hospitals by taking pressure off critical bed space.

He was the first to start conversations with local authorities and police forces to provide hotels as places of refuge for vulnerable people, such as domestic abuse victims, homeless and rough sleepers in Best Western hotels.

He has been praised by police and local authorities for his support.

He also created a national letter writing campaign in March 2020 to support people struggling in lockdown with isolation, loneliness and mental health. That campaign has resulted in the writing of over 2,000 letters to people from the age of five to 103 to keep spirits up.

His efforts, initiative and innovation turned a hotel business into a vital support function for the NHS, police and local authorities.

His efforts led the way for how hotels can help in the crisis and his letter writing idea continues to act as a much-loved support to people suffering with poor mental health during the crisis and restrictions on seeing people, helping many thousands of people over a number of crucial months to get through the first wave safely.

Lynne Wade, from Doncaster - the prison worker who helped inmates learn through Covid

The 61-year-old is an educator at Lindholme and Moorland prisons and the young offenders' institute at Hatfield. She has been made MBE for services to prisoner education.

During Covid she has helped members of the public set up laptops and tablets remotely to keep them in touch with their families while visits were not allowed.

She has helped those who never excelled or even attended school regularly in childhood and those with learning difficulties come to enjoy learning and feel treated like students and not prisoners while in her classroom.

She helps with their English even though she is not their language teacher, determined to bring out the best in the most difficult of students, helping one pass exams who had previously been removed from class for being disruptive.

She devised a specific course for Entry Level Learners at the lower end of the academic scale for IT qualification and she has a commitment to the mental health of those in her charge.

She prepares appropriate materials for those with mental health issues and always champions the underdog.

She has continually improved her own learning and qualifications to maintain the highest standards of teaching in IT studies as well as literacy and numeracy.

She has also qualified in mental health working and counselling.

Vanda Fairchild, from Leeds - the martial arts champion and NHS worker

The 56-year-old has been made MBE for services to women's martial arts and the NHS.

She has worked continuously in the NHS since 1983. Since 2013, until her retirement in March 2021, she held the innovative role of Young Adult Kidney Care Co-ordinator and played a vital role in the transition of young adults from paediatric services at Evelina London Children’s Hospital and Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, to adult services at Guy’s and St Thomas’ London hospital.

She has also been involved with Aikido over a span of 30 years. She began the sport in 1979, becoming British Randori Champion three times and going on to win six international medals.

She was one of the first non-Japanese women to win a medal at the World Championships.

She has held various positions in the executive committee of the British Aikido Association and is a representative on the World Sports Aikido Federation (WSAF).

Along with her partner, they run the Tanseikan Aikido Club which has grown hugely popular over the years with its members competing successfully for the UK on the world stage.

Syima Aslam, from Bradford - the woman who founded the Bradford Literature Festival

The 47-year-old has the MBE for services to literature.

She was the founder and director of the Bradford Literature Festival and contributed to supporting Bradford’s economic regeneration, changing perceptions of the city and celebrating its rich literary heritage.

She has worked to empower children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to view literature and books as exciting, accessible and a natural part of their life.

Over the past eight years she has worked to remove barriers to cultural engagement, offering free tickets to anyone on benefits, living in social housing, refugees, asylum seekers, or anyone caring for a disabled audience member.

The BLF adult programme is curated to create interest within a demographic who may see a literature festival as not being their ‘natural place’, or something ‘for them’, and is priced to be reasonable and free for those who would not be able to afford to attend otherwise.

The schools programme is also completely free and is an integral part of the festival, complementing the free events which take place for children and young people at weekends.

She was elected as an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2019 and she was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Bradford in 2021.

Kim Phillips, from Rotherham - the council worker who kept the town going during Covid

The 54-year-old head of catering and facilities services at Rotherham Council has been given the MBE for public service.

For the past 15 years, and especially the past year, she has worked tirelessly to support essential frontline services in cleaning, school catering and school crossing patrols.

She always leads from the front, whether that be setting up lateral flow testing areas, setting off at dawn on her day off to help prepare meals for school children during the school holidays, helping to pack 3,000 school hampers at Easter, and at times enlisting practical support from her family who have also been supporting the response to the pandemic through their work in the NHS and teaching.

Prior to her role at the council, she worked for the police for 15 years as business manager, and compares the challenges of the past 12 months to some of the most difficult periods while working up to 14-hour days to help tackle gun crime in central Sheffield.

She also dedicates her own personal time to public service, and for the last four years has represented the parish council in her home community of Wickersley.

She is active in the cleaning profession and is Chair of the Association of Building Cleaning Direct Service Providers.

Michael Bromby, from Hull - inspirational coach at the city's oldest boxing club

The 60-year-old lives in Bilton in the East Riding and is head coach at St Paul's Boxing Academy in Hull. He has been given the MBE for services to his sport.

St Paul's is one of the largest boxing academies outside London and he has been a dedicated coach and youth worker since 1985

The organisation began as a club in 1948 and has been based in the heart of Hull since 1974. It continues to serve poorer and more deprived areas in the sub-region

As a boxer he won national titles and was selected for the England boxing team before a brief stint as a professional boxer

In 1985, he turned his attention to coaching and has coached many disadvantaged young people in Hull and East Riding, helping them build confidence and self-belief, overcoming their inhibitions and anxieties.

In 2012, he coached boxer Luke Campbell to win Olympic gold.

Michelle Blanchard, from Bingley - the teacher who founded an Outstanding primary school

The 38-year-old former executive principal of Dixons Academies Trust has been made MBE for services to education.

As founding Principal of Dixons Music Primary, she has had a substantial impact on the lives of some of the most disadvantaged children and young people in Bradford. Half of the pupils attending the school are from the five most disadvantaged areas in Bradford.

It opened in 2012 with an intake of 30 reception year pupils, growing to full capacity of 420 within four years.

By June 2016, the school was rated ‘Outstanding’ in every area by Ofsted. By 2019, students were in the top 10 per cent nationally for KS1 reading and maths.

She also co-authored the 2020 EEF guidance report on ‘Improving Behaviour in Schools’ and, hosted by the Bradford Research School, she delivered many lectures as to classroom management strategies.

She also led a set of research informed teacher training webinars covering several aspects of behaviour management and which were very widely accessed.

Regionally, she has continued to provide endless guidance and support to heads seeking to improve their own results and behavioural management strategies.

In 2019, she was appointed as a behaviour adviser to the government. This role has included assisting with the writing and delivering of the training content for the programme, recruiting lead schools and advising on SEND and behaviour in the primary sector.

She is now headteacher at Beckfoot Allerton Primary School.

Jamie Stead, from Normanton - the inspirational wheelchair rugby player

The 28-year-old has been named MBE for services to his sport.

He was part of the team who won an historic Paralympic gold medal at Tokyo 2020.

Born with cerebral palsy, he dreamed of becoming a professional athlete which led to him trying a number of sports before settling on wheelchair rugby.

He made his international debut at the Canada Cup in 2014 and has since gone on to become a key member of the team representing GB at European and world level, making his Paralympic debut at the Rio 2016 Games.

He also captains his club team Leicester Tigers and has led them to two league titles.

Sofia Buncy, from Huddersfield - founder of the Muslim Women in Prison project

Sofia has been given the MBE for services to prisoners and the community in Bradford.

She was also the first researcher in the country to analyse Muslim women's experience in the criminal justice system.

She is committed to improving policy and practice in the management and care of Muslim women, particularly those who come into contact with the justice system, including those who go through prison.

She contributed to the review of the family ties of female offenders, conducted by Lord Farmer, and she is part of the recently established Female Offenders Minority Ethnic (FOME) working group.

She was the first team member to return to the Khidmat Centre - a community centre - after the announcement of lockdown. She provided the impetus to set up a food bank and hot food provision during the pandemic and which still continues. She drew together a small team of staff and volunteers to run it and delivered 60 hampers a week. Included in this were regular deliveries of hygiene packs for women and girls experiencing period poverty which she had also identified was a real need.

She also identified the increasing use of nitrous oxide in the community and by linking up with another community provider and the local newspaper she led a campaign to alert young people, parents and stakeholders about the dangers of misuse of the drug and its addictive properties. She was able to map the spread of the problem and gather evidence to share with key stakeholders in Bradford.

Yvonne Copley, from Easingwold - founder of the Kyra Women's Project

The 67-year-old has been made MBE for services to women and the community in York.

She was founder and chief executive of Kyra Women's Project and has only recently stood down. She worked in the prison service in the psychology department as a trainer.

It was while working for the Samaritans in York while on a break from her former role as a prison officer that she recognised that many women phoning helplines after entering or leaving prison and in many other walks of life were in need of additional support.

She was determined to do something to help those facing barriers and crisis due to domestic abuse, isolation, mental health issues, addiction, bereavement, long term illness, anxiety and loneliness.

She was committed to doing something about this and the Kyra project was born.

It grew to having over 1,000 service users who made an average of 120 weekly visits, and taking up places on 23 different courses, classes and services including craft, gardening, cooking, singing and a reading group.

She has built Kyra’s profile with the NHS primary health care providers in the community. Three out of five women are referred via the NHS.

Since coming to Kyra 93 per cent say they are less lonely and 96 per cent say it has helped their overall recovery.

She has written practical guides and delivered courses as well as trained other volunteers to deliver Kyra’s services.

Former prison officer Yvonne Copley, left, founded vulnerable women's project Kyra in York