/Grassroots heroes from fundraisers to fosterers get new year honours

Grassroots heroes from fundraisers to fosterers get new year honours

The vast majority of new year honours have been awarded to ordinary people for extraordinary contributions to society at a local and national level.

Among those singled out were a midwife who has helped to transform care for new mothers with cancer, a 13-year-old boy who has raised thousands of pounds for charity and a Welsh Elvis impersonator whose fundraising has reached £250,000.

Fifty-one per cent of the honours went to women, in many cases for grassroots work in communities.

Yashmin Harun from London received a British Empire Medal (BEM) for her work to open up sports such as football, badminton, tennis and fencing to minority ethnic women.

Yashmin Harun

Yashmin Harun has been awarded a British Empire Medal. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA

She established free football sessions for women in partnership with Dagenham and Redbridge FC community trust and a mosque.

“I am really humbled,” she said. “All I really wanted to do was to create opportunities for women to take part in sport.”

Nicolette Peel, a midwife who was diagnosed with breast cancer shortly after the birth of her first child, received an MBE for her work supporting pregnant women and mothers with cancer through the charity Mummy’s Star.

Nicolette Peel

Nicolette Peel: ‘The honours system gives me so much hope.’ Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Peel, whose cancer has returned, said: “The honours system gives me so much hope. It fills me with joy that the compassionate qualities are recognised and appreciated, and that ordinary people are represented. My life might not be long but I feel it will be worthwhile.”

Maureen and George Hughes from Drighlington, Leeds, were awarded MBEs for having fostered 39 people over the past 18 years, ranging from a day-old baby to a mother and child.

George and Maureen Hughes

George and Maureen Hughes have fostered 39 people in 18 years. Photograph: PA

“We just want to give them the love and attention that any child should have, with the correct parenting and teaching them the right way to behave,” said Maureen.

Ibrahim Yousaf, 13, from Oldham, Greater Manchester, received a BEM for services to the community after his work to raise funds for local causes. The teenager began his charity work at the age of 12 when he donated his birthday money to the Royal Manchester children’s hospital.

The Rev Wynne Roberts, 58, from Anglesey, received a BEM for charitable services after raising about £250,000 for various charities since he began his Elvis tribute act six years ago.

Wynne Roberts

The Rev Wynne Roberts started his Elvis tribute act six years ago. Photograph: PA

“To be honest, I was humbled,” he said. “I’m just singing songs. Other people have done far greater things.”

Mete Coban received an MBE for his work engaging young people in the UK and Europe in democracy. His family narrowly avoided being deported to northern Cyprus from their council home in Hackney two decades ago.

Mete Coban

Mete Coban: ‘I never would have thought it when I was younger.’ Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Coban, who co-founded the charity My Life My Say, said he could never have imagined someone like him being honoured. “For someone like me who was brought up in Hackney, one of the most deprived boroughs in the UK … to see someone like me receive an MBE, I never would have thought it when I was younger.

“It will serve a great purpose if lots of young people see you don’t have to be a footballer, but that they can go on to make a change in life. That is most encouraging.”

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