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Mo Farah's reaction to being Knighted: the honours list

THE BOY DONE GOOD: Mo Farah displays his famous victory dance, the 'Mo Bot'

THIS TIME of year usually sees UK newspapers and blogs attempting to predict who will get what at the Queen's New Year's Honours, which awards well-known and notable achievers within their respective fields for outstanding work or major contributions to others.

This year sees the greatest number of Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) ever to be up for an award.

Poet Benjamin Zephaniah (pictured below) is just one of the public figures, both black and white who have refused an honour for varying reasons; often because an OBE stands for 'Order of the British Empire', a brutish yet well-mannered colonial regime that changed history.

Despite the sometimes negative connotations surrounding the honours list, an award shows that the recipient is highly regarded and has been nominated before being selected by independent committees and handed to the Queen herself via the Prime Minister for consideration. The proud moments and enhanced career opportunities are, in anyone's eyes; a great privilege to receive.

Dame Claire Tickell, DBE chairs the Community, Voluntary and Local Services Honours Committee and is committed to the list being diverse and embraced by all ethnicities:

"We want the honour system to represent the society we live in."

The Voice wants to acknowledge the amazing work of all those who were nominated for an honour, whilst paying special homage to a section of recipients from our black communities here in the UK as well as those serving British citizens abroad with their everyday work; in brief below:

Mo Farah

Mo Farah finally captured the ultimate gong when he was named in the 2017 New Year's Honours List.

The double Olympic champion didn’t manage to land a BBC Sports personality of the Year Award, but he has been given the knighthood many felt should have been bestowed upon him four years ago.

In a brief statement, Briton Farah said:

"I’m so happy to be awarded this incredible honour from the country that has been my home since I moved here at the age of eight.

"Looking back at the boy who arrived here from Somalia, not speaking any English, I could never have imagined where I would be today - it's a dream come true.

I’m so proud to have had the opportunity to race for my country and win gold medals for the British people, who have been my biggest supporters throughout my career. My successes have only been possible because of their support and the commitment, sacrifices and love of my amazing family and the team around me now and over the years."

Clive Rowe

Black British Actor Clive Rowe (pictured below) will receive an MBE, that is - Member of the Order of the British Empire - for services to acting. With a career spanning 17 years, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama graduate is probably best known for his role as ‘Duke’ Ellington in BBC children's drama, The Story of Tracey Beaker. He also starred as Mayor Doyle in the hit Disney show Evermore and the Evermore chronicles. Screen aside, Rowe has appeared in many plays too and in recent years, he has become known as the ‘Grand Dame of Pantomime'. Rowe's run has even earned him multiple Olivier Award nominations and in 1997, when he won the gong for Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical for his role as Nicely Nicely Johnson in the National Theatre revival of Guys and Dolls.

Chris Ofili

Turner Prize-winning painter Christopher Ofili (pictured below) has been named on the New Year’s Honours list and will receive a CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) for services to art. In the 1980s, he rose to prominence as one of the Young British Artists or YBAs; a troop of young visual artists who begin to exhibit together. Since then, he has gone to become considered one of the most acclaimed painters of his generation and represented Great Britain at the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003. His Nigerian heritage has greatly influenced his work. With that said, Ofili's early works draw on a wide range of influences, from Zimbabwean cave painting to comic book heroes and icons of funk and hip-hop. 

Jeremiah Emmanuel

17 year-old Jeremiah Emmanuel, pictured below (photo credit: Sarah London Photography), has been awarded a BEM or British Empire Medal for his influence on media and politics as well as his charitable interests. Boasting (very humbly) a string of accolades somebody three times his age would be proud of, Emmanuel proudly recalls becoming politically active at the age of four, attending a rally with his mother and members of Nelson Mandela's family as part of the Nelson Mandela Schools Foundation campaign group who were lobbying for schools to be built in Brixton, south London. Inspired by his local MP Chuka Umunna during a primary school visit, the young man's growing civic interest was again sharpened by his mother who is a youth worker and, according to Emmanuel:

"...taught me to care about others in the community."

The teenager went on to start the Radio 1 and BBC 1 Xtra Youth Council, which advises the BBC on how to serve and retain a young listenership, which continues to grow due to Emmanuel's vision as well as mentorship and support from Ben Cooper of the BBC, rapper Tinie Tempah and his Disturbing London record company. As well as these admirable results already chalked-up, Emmanuel became motivated to campaign for young people to be taught first aid in Personal Social Education classes which already form part of the National Curriculum and for life-saving skills to be taught in citizenship lessons. Emmanuel tells The Voice that this aspect of his work was sparked by a life he saved earlier this year using skills he learnt as an Army cadet:

"I had to stem the flow of blood with belts, hoodies...there was a crowd gathering and I had to get them to help me hold the stuff in place."

Marcia Shakespeare

A mother who has dedicated the past 14 years of her life to educating young people against gun and knife crime after her teenage daughter became the innocent victim of a drive-by shooting, has been awarded an MBE. Marcia Shakespeare (pictured below) plays a key role in the Precious Lives project run by West Midlands Police which tours the region’s schools as part of a campaign to ‘de-glamourise’ gang culture and warn young people about the dangers of carrying weapons. Marcia’s 17-year-old daughter Letisha died in a hail of bullets alongside her college friend Charlene Ellis, 18, as they stepped out of a New Year’s Day party for some fresh air in the early hours of 2 January 2003; caught in the crossfire of warring gangs. Shakespeare told the Voice:

“When I received the letter about my MBE, I had an initial burst of excitement, then the realisation hit me that I had only received this because Letisha had been murdered – and I couldn’t stop crying. It was a bittersweet moment."

Elizabeth Anionwu

Celebrated nurse Elizabeth Anionwu (pictured below), has been honoured with a damehood for her services to nursing and the Mary Seacole Statue Appeal. Anionwu, who’s nursing career spans over 4 decades, is just as shocked to receive the award even with the numerous milestones she’s achieve throughout her life.

“I still can’t believe it to be quite honest!” said Anionwu.

“I’m vey shocked but so pleased for the recognition given to nurses – especially black nurses – and the Mary Seacole Statue Appeal.”

The statue was 12 years in the making, and Anionwu was one of the most prominent leaders of the campaign to honour Seacole with this monument on the grounds of St Thomas’s Hospital. 

“It took twelve and half long years, but it was all worth it.”

Robin Iffla

Honouree Robin Iffla was appointed as lead trainer with Central Scotland Police in 2001 to deliver Diversity Awareness training. During his police career, Robin's been seconded to various authorities and partner agencies, primarily working on issues of race and equalities. His final secondment was to Central Scotland Fire and Rescue service as their Equality and Diversity Officer - a position he held for a further year and a half after he retired from the service. Robin told The Voice:

"I am humbled and suprised. I haven't told my family yet but we're having a few friend's round on New Year's Eve so I will make the announcement then.

"My business is diversity. Social inclusion is not just a phrase, it is just that - leaving people with dignity and respect."

Cecilia Anim

President for The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Cecilia Anim, pictured below, receiving another award earlier in 2016, has been awarded a CBE - Commander of the Order of the British Empire for her efforts representing the profession. General Secretary and Chief Executive Janet Davies said:

“Cecilia is a role model and an inspiration to many working in the NHS. She has worked tirelessly to promote the cause of nursing and support RCN members for more than three decades.

“She embodies the best of nursing. This honour is a wonderful and very welcome recognition of everything she has done for the nursing profession.”

Additional honourees who made the list and are due much recognition include retired athlete and new mum Jessica Ennis-Hill DBE, Metropolitan Police Chief Superintendent Victor Olisa, girls' education advocate for South Sudan Akuja de Garang, architect David Adjaye OBE and Dorothy Francis of CASE social enterprise who were all unfortunately unavailable for comment today .

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