The everyday heroes given gongs for selfless work during pandemic

Every year, among the star-studded line-up of the New Year Honours list, are the everyday heroes.

Usually rewarded for their selfless dedication to their communities, they traditionally  include nurses, carers and charity workers who go above-and-beyond to improve the lives of those around them.

And while those heroes are still featured this year, the year in which the UK faced a pandemic, stars of a different kind have been forged – those helping their communities through the impacts of Covid-19.

The everyday heroes include shop workers who have bravely gone above and beyond to keep food on the table for the vulnerable in their communities, a pharmacist who drove medicine to customers while off-duty and a pub owner who turned her watering hole into a shop for the good of the community.

Here are some of the names we could find of shopworkers, pub staff, delivery workers and community heroes in the New Year Honours list – among the 1,239 recipients this year.

June Walker – British Empire Medal for services to the economy

A Community Champion at Asda in Donnington Wood, June Walker has been given a BEM for providing help to her local community during the pandemic.

June has been the store’s community champion for 11 years. In her role, she spends time each week delivering outreach programs in the local community, coordinating the company’s Green Token Giving programme and helping local groups to access funding.  

A Community Champion at Asda in Donnington Wood, June Walker has been given a BEM for providing help to her local community during the pandemic

A Community Champion at Asda in Donnington Wood, June Walker has been given a BEM for providing help to her local community during the pandemic

A Community Champion at Asda in Donnington Wood, June Walker has been given a BEM for providing help to her local community during the pandemic

She one of nine Asda colleagues recognised in the New Year Honours.

June said: ‘After the year we’ve all had it’s good to end it on something nice. With Covid it has been challenging few months as I’m used to being out and about in the community, but it has been nice staying in store and finding our more about my colleagues and the strengths and talents that they have got.

‘My husband, Matthew, is very proud of me. He thinks it’s lovely that I’ve been recognised for going above and beyond my job role.’

Haroon Mahmood – British Empire Medal for services to the community

Known as Harry to his friends, Haroon Mahmood has been a real-life hero to his community during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The 34-year-old lives in Coventry but works as a relief manager for Wells Pharmacy in the West-Midlands town of Darlaston.

He has been working 40 hour weeks at the pharmacy to ensure customers can access their prescriptions – but it’s outside of work where his true heroism showed.

Known as Harry to his friends Haroon Mahmood (pictured centre) has been a real-life hero to his community during the Covid-19 pandemic

Known as Harry to his friends Haroon Mahmood (pictured centre) has been a real-life hero to his community during the Covid-19 pandemic

Known as Harry to his friends Haroon Mahmood (pictured centre) has been a real-life hero to his community during the Covid-19 pandemic

Determined to ensure customers received their prescriptions, Haroon made delivers in his off hours, including during his lunch-break.

Speaking to the Express and Star, he said: ‘When Covid really landed our workload in the pharmacy increased massively, although doctors were still working there were no face-to-face appointments which was a huge problem.

‘I tried to help people best I could. We had many, many patients who are elderly so we created a list of vulnerable patients to make sure they were ok, we know a lot of them live on their own.

‘Our delivery service is limited so I knew we had to make a vulnerable list and make sure those people were caught up on to make sure they were not short.

Prior to Covid-19, Harry has also supported underprivileged children with academic assistance and mentoring weekly on Sundays. 

He also created a Zoom conference and online support group to support children with their education when schools closed. 

Caroline Halfhide – Member of the British Empire for services to the community

Like many publicans Caroline Halfhide, from Ash in Somerset, was left facing her own dilemma when the pandemic struck.

With pubs, bars and restaurants forced to close in the national lockdown, the 51-year-old came up with a way to keep herself open for the benefit of the community.

Like many publicans Caroline Halfhide, from Ash in Somerset, was left facing her own dilemma when the pandemic struck

Like many publicans Caroline Halfhide, from Ash in Somerset, was left facing her own dilemma when the pandemic struck

Like many publicans Caroline Halfhide, from Ash in Somerset, was left facing her own dilemma when the pandemic struck

She changed her pub into a village shop for residents to drastically minimise the need for travel to nearby towns for food and essentials.

Caroline has now been honoured with an MBE. 

Writing on social media about her award, she said: ‘Earlier this month, I was reduced to a ‘blubbering mess’ when I received an email notifying me that I had been recommended for an honour in the Queens 2021 New Years honours list.

‘Have no idea who recommended me, but they have only gone and awarded me an MBE.

‘Totally humbled by it & so proud as it was for looking after the community that I love.

‘I have to thank Kerry for putting up with me for all the 18 hour days after the first lockdown. It was so stressful, but so many people needed support and a lifeline.

‘Would do it all again in a heartbeat … and after the news (on Tiers), I am still here for anyone that needs support.’

Joanne Gates – British Empire Medal for services to the food supply chain

Joanne Gates manages two Co-Op food stores in Romford and Barking.

Like many retail staff she faced huge challenges in the pandemic, from dealing with new rules and regulations, to restrictions on the number of items customers can buy.

Joanne Gates manages two Co-Op food stores in Romford and Barking

Joanne Gates manages two Co-Op food stores in Romford and Barking

Joanne Gates manages two Co-Op food stores in Romford and Barking

She earlier spoke about her experiences to the Romford Recorder, saying: ‘Sometimes we find some customers can a little bit more anxious, more agitated and they will start to panic, or will start to take it out on colleagues.

‘We are only doing what we are told by the government to do.

‘Some customers make a point of saying thank you for all the hard work that we are doing.’ 

Ms Gates has worked for the Co-op for eight and a half years and has also signed up to be an NHS volunteer.

She said on Twitter: ‘So proud to reveal I am being given the British Empire Medal in the New Years Honours List 2021. So grateful to have been nominated.’

Other everyday heroes listed include for New Year Honours are:   

Linda Carrington – Food Retail Worker at SPAR – BEM for services to economy during the Covid-19 Response in Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire

Louise Hadley – Section Manager, Marks and Spencer – BEM – For services to Customers and the community in Harborne, Birmingham during the Covid-19 Response 

Linda Carrington - Food Retail Worker at SPAR - BEM for services to economy during the Covid-19 Response in Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire

Linda Carrington - Food Retail Worker at SPAR - BEM for services to economy during the Covid-19 Response in Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire

Neil Ferries - Warehouse Manager, Kent - BEM for services to community during the Covid-19 response

Neil Ferries - Warehouse Manager, Kent - BEM for services to community during the Covid-19 response

Linda Carrington (left) a food retail worker at SPAR received a BEM for services to economy. Neil Ferries (right), a Morrisons warehouse manager from Kent received a BEM for services to the community 

Azizur Rahman – Foods Section Manager, Marks and Spencer – BEM – for services to the community in London during the Covid-19 Response

Michelle Leary – Community Champion, Morrisons, Basingstoke – BEM for services to economy during the Covid-19 response

Myra Smith – Community Champion, Morrisons, Dumfries – BEM for services to economy during the Covid-19 response

Neil Ferries – Warehouse Manager, Morrisons, Kent – BEM for services to community during the Covid-19 response

Pam Abbott – Community Champion, Morrisons, Wakefield – BEM for services to economy during the Covid-19 response

Abdul Majid – A shopkeeper in Glasgow, Scotland – MBE for services to Integration in Glasgow and to Charity in Scotland and Abroad

Two centenarians lead roll call of national heroes in New Year Honours – with one becoming the oldest person on record to be recognised

By VANESSA ALLEN for the Daily Mail 

Two centenarians led a roll call of national heroes in the New Year Honours.

Anne Baker, 106, became the oldest person on record to receive an honour, after she dedicated 60 years to charity fundraising.

Ruth Saunders, 104, was recognised after she walked a marathon to raise money for the Thames Valley Air Ambulance. 

They both received MBEs in a New Year Honours list that celebrated the work of some 800 community champions and volunteers.

Anne Baker (right, with Esther Rantzen), 106, became the oldest person on record to receive an honour, after she dedicated 60 years to charity fundraising

Anne Baker (right, with Esther Rantzen), 106, became the oldest person on record to receive an honour, after she dedicated 60 years to charity fundraising

Anne Baker (right, with Esther Rantzen), 106, became the oldest person on record to receive an honour, after she dedicated 60 years to charity fundraising

Mrs Baker, from Salisbury, Wiltshire, has volunteered for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC). She said it was a 'great surprise and a great honour' to receive an MBE

Mrs Baker, from Salisbury, Wiltshire, has volunteered for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC). She said it was a 'great surprise and a great honour' to receive an MBE

Mrs Baker, from Salisbury, Wiltshire, has volunteered for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC). She said it was a ‘great surprise and a great honour’ to receive an MBE

More than 230 people were recognised for their efforts in combating the effects of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns and isolation.

Mrs Baker, from Salisbury, Wiltshire, has volunteered for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) for more than 60 years.

She said it was a ‘great surprise and a great honour’ to receive an MBE. 

While Mrs Saunders, of Newbury, Berkshire, took almost two months to complete her walking marathon after she was inspired by the efforts of Captain Sir Tom Moore, who raised £32million for the NHS in the run-up to his 100th birthday.

Ruth Saunders (above), 104, was recognised after she walked a marathon to raise money for the Thames Valley Air Ambulance. Mrs Saunders, of Newbury, Berkshire, took almost two months to complete her walking marathon after she was inspired by the efforts of Captain Sir Tom Moore, who raised £32million for the NHS in the run-up to his 100th birthday

Ruth Saunders (above), 104, was recognised after she walked a marathon to raise money for the Thames Valley Air Ambulance. Mrs Saunders, of Newbury, Berkshire, took almost two months to complete her walking marathon after she was inspired by the efforts of Captain Sir Tom Moore, who raised £32million for the NHS in the run-up to his 100th birthday

Ruth Saunders (above), 104, was recognised after she walked a marathon to raise money for the Thames Valley Air Ambulance. Mrs Saunders, of Newbury, Berkshire, took almost two months to complete her walking marathon after she was inspired by the efforts of Captain Sir Tom Moore, who raised £32million for the NHS in the run-up to his 100th birthday

Mrs Saunders, a former Red Cross nurse and great-grandmother, walked 130 laps of her garden to cover the 26.2 miles and said it had helped to ease her arthritis. She raised almost £39,000

Mrs Saunders, a former Red Cross nurse and great-grandmother, walked 130 laps of her garden to cover the 26.2 miles and said it had helped to ease her arthritis. She raised almost £39,000

Mrs Saunders, a former Red Cross nurse and great-grandmother, walked 130 laps of her garden to cover the 26.2 miles and said it had helped to ease her arthritis. She raised almost £39,000

The former Red Cross nurse and great-grandmother walked 130 laps of her garden to cover the 26.2 miles and said it had helped to ease her arthritis. She raised almost £39,000.

The list honoured many frontline NHS workers for their tireless work during the pandemic, such as Carol Doggett, 51, head of nursing at Morriston Hospital in Swansea, South Wales.

Mrs Doggett, a nurse since 1987, transformed the hospital’s critical care capacity from 28 beds to 117 in just three weeks at the start of the pandemic.

She and her team treated hundreds of patients including 13 of their own colleagues at the hospital trust. She said she was ‘overwhelmed’ to learn she would receive an MBE, and dedicated the honour to her team and their patients.

Another nurse, Catherine Fitzsimmons, 62, had retired from NHS nursing after 41 years but returned to Salford Royal Hospital in Greater Manchester in April.

The list honoured many frontline NHS workers for their tireless work during the pandemic, such as Carol Doggett (above), 51, head of nursing at Morriston Hospital in Swansea, South Wales. Mrs Doggett, a nurse since 1987, transformed the hospital's critical care capacity from 28 beds to 117 in just three weeks at the start of the pandemic

The list honoured many frontline NHS workers for their tireless work during the pandemic, such as Carol Doggett (above), 51, head of nursing at Morriston Hospital in Swansea, South Wales. Mrs Doggett, a nurse since 1987, transformed the hospital's critical care capacity from 28 beds to 117 in just three weeks at the start of the pandemic

The list honoured many frontline NHS workers for their tireless work during the pandemic, such as Carol Doggett (above), 51, head of nursing at Morriston Hospital in Swansea, South Wales. Mrs Doggett, a nurse since 1987, transformed the hospital’s critical care capacity from 28 beds to 117 in just three weeks at the start of the pandemic

Another nurse, Catherine Fitzsimmons (above), 62, had retired from NHS nursing after 41 years but returned to Salford Royal Hospital in Greater Manchester in April. She helped her team to set up online calls for families who could not go into hospitals to visit critically ill relatives, and said she felt 'extremely honoured and very, very emotional' to receive a British Empire Medal

Another nurse, Catherine Fitzsimmons (above), 62, had retired from NHS nursing after 41 years but returned to Salford Royal Hospital in Greater Manchester in April. She helped her team to set up online calls for families who could not go into hospitals to visit critically ill relatives, and said she felt 'extremely honoured and very, very emotional' to receive a British Empire Medal

Another nurse, Catherine Fitzsimmons (above), 62, had retired from NHS nursing after 41 years but returned to Salford Royal Hospital in Greater Manchester in April. She helped her team to set up online calls for families who could not go into hospitals to visit critically ill relatives, and said she felt ‘extremely honoured and very, very emotional’ to receive a British Empire Medal

She helped her team to set up online calls for families who could not go into hospitals to visit critically ill relatives, and said she felt ‘extremely honoured and very, very emotional’ to receive a British Empire Medal.

She told Good Morning Britain today: ‘I’m just a very small element of a fantastic team, with the palliative care and bereavement care team at Salford Royal which is part of the Northern Care Alliance.

‘I was very very emotional and delighted, absolutely delighted.

‘It wasn’t a difficult decision (to come back). I offered as soon as I knew there was potential problems going forward. I said please let me help, so it was problem at all. I thoroughly enjoy being a nurse.’ 

St John Ambulance paramedic Richard Royce Lee, 49, will receive an MBE after he worked seven-day weeks for the first two months of the pandemic in Caerphilly, Gwent.

EasyJet Captain Emma Henderson, 47, from Kinloss, in Moray, Scotland, will also get an MBE after she co-founded Project Wingman, which set up care lounges inside 80 hospitals to help NHS staff.

Other recipients included Kate Dawson, 54, who was given an OBE for helping to make scrubs for the NHS in Ashington, Northumberland.

Entrepreneur Manoj Varsani was made an MBE for setting up the voluntary organisation SOS Supplies to help plug gaps in supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care staff.

EasyJet Captain Emma Henderson (pictured), 47, from Kinloss, in Moray, Scotland, will also get an MBE after she co-founded Project Wingman, which set up care lounges inside 80 hospitals to help NHS staff

EasyJet Captain Emma Henderson (pictured), 47, from Kinloss, in Moray, Scotland, will also get an MBE after she co-founded Project Wingman, which set up care lounges inside 80 hospitals to help NHS staff

EasyJet Captain Emma Henderson (pictured), 47, from Kinloss, in Moray, Scotland, will also get an MBE after she co-founded Project Wingman, which set up care lounges inside 80 hospitals to help NHS staff

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