Four Liberal Democrats in the New Year Honours list

Congratulations to the fellow Liberal Democrats spotted so far in this year’s honours list, and do let me know of any omissions.

Liberal Democrat peer Floella Benjamin (known to many as the former Play School TV presenter) becomes a dame for her services to charity:

I am buzzing with excitement like a little girl. I just feel so happy and thrilled, and honoured and privileged to be able to accept this honour.

For the last 40 years, I believed that you have to give back and you have to try and think about other people as much as you can because when I came to Britain, aged 10, I had a pretty tough time, people told me to go back, they didn’t want me here.

And I realised that I was worthy because my parents kept telling me that. And when I started doing Play School, I realised that children needed a voice, so there are many sign posts in my life, spiritual moments if you want to call them that directed me to a place where I should be – that was to give back and to give unconditional love and that’s what I’ve done.

So getting this award is a bit of me getting something back of unconditional love people have shown to me, and I’m really, really thrilled and happy about it.

Kishan Devani has been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for his services to community cohesion:

Thank you to all my family, friends, colleagues and supporters.

Also honoured is Liberal Democrat councillor Peter Craig (Whickham North ward, Gateshead Council). He has also received the BEM, in his case for services to the community in Wickham.

Likewise Vivienne Rees from South Cumbria:

Vivienne Rees has also been honoured with a BEM for services to her community in Grasmere.

She served as a district councillor where she championed the needs of older residents in rural locations.

She is chair of Grasmere Village Society, set up to protect the unique qualities of the area.

She ensured the continued provision of public realm such as public seating, new pathways, enhanced play facilities for younger people and bus shelters.

She was a Governor for Lakes School and ensured that the needs of young people in rural areas is at the forefront of decision making. [The Mail]

As I’ve written after previous honour rounds:

What I … find increasingly hard is to congratulate those in other years – or in other parties this year – who get an honour simply for having been a politician (or civil servant, one of those other favoured professions) for many years and getting to a fairly senior level, at least briefly.

For me, honours should be about acknowledging and thanking the truly remarkable or the otherwise largely unrecognised. Doing a relatively safe job pretty well for a few decades shouldn’t be enough. Brilliance, bravery or selfless dedication is what I’d like to see recognised far more.

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6 responses to “Four Liberal Democrats in the New Year Honours list”

  1. I’m puzzled as to how and why Floella Benjamin, who was already a ‘peer’ (i.e. surely “Dame Floella”) can be “made a Dame” – again!

  2. My grandfather received an OBE for spending 30 years in one of the most inhospitable places in the world, erecting telegraph lines which connected the UK to India, and then running a telegraph station, during the First World War helping to fight off an attack by tribesmen led by Wassmuss, the German equivalent of TE Lawrence. His dedication cost him his marriage, but fortunately not his health. His honour was well-deserved.

  3. How many members of the House of Lords, apart from Floella Benjamin, are also dames or knights? As Tony Vickers suggests, it is likeley to be an invisible honour, as Dame will presumably not supplant Baroness or lady.

  4. A bit incongruous to have an ‘Empire’ medal.. and no disrespect to Vivienne Rees, a lot of us have done what she has done and not received a mention, though perhaps there is a lot more in her case that is not reported..?

  5. Perhaps it’s just as well that I haven’t been nominated as I neither believe in a God or Imperialism. For God and the Empire? No, I work in my community for the good of my fellow human beings. These gongs are a completely outdated anachronism.

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