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New Year Honours 2024: All of those honoured in Cambridgeshire, including Cambridge scientists, business leaders, musicians and community stalwarts

Cambridge and Cambridgeshire are once again well represented in the New Year Honours List 2024, with scientists, technologists, business leaders, musicians and community figures featuring.Here’s our guide to all those in Cambridgeshire who feature on the list.

Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire

Prof Dame Carol Black. Picture: Richard Bailey
Prof Dame Carol Black. Picture: Richard Bailey

Professor Dame Carol Black, the former Newnham College principal who wrote a hard-hitting independent review of the impact of illicit drugs on society, has been made a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE) for public service.

A Grand Cross is very rarely awarded and it recognises only the most exceptional and sustained service to the UK.

In 2019, with drug-related deaths and crimes at all-time highs, Dame Carol Black was appointed to lead a major independent government review of illicit drugs. This was published in two hard-hitting parts in 2020 and 2021 respectively.

On receiving the honour, Dame Carol, formerly a deputy vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge, said: “I am absolutely delighted to have been made a Dame Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire. This award comes almost 20 years after I received a DBE for services to medicine and recognises the progress being made to tackle some of the most entrenched and interrelated problems in society – poverty, homelessness, unemployment, and drug dependency.

“Drug dependency is still stigmatised but it needs to be recognised as a chronic health condition. My heartfelt thanks go to everyone who has helped and supported me, and to those individuals doing great work on the frontline to change culture and practice.”

Look out for our full article on Dame Carol’s honour.

Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire

Judith Weir, photographed for Choir & Organ magazine. Image: Music Sales Limited benjamin@ealovega.com
Judith Weir, photographed for Choir & Organ magazine. Image: Music Sales Limited benjamin@ealovega.com

Judith Weir CBE, master of the King's Music, has been made a dame for services to music.

Ms Weir, who grew up in Cambridge, composed music for King Charles III’s Coronation on May 6, 2023. Her orchestral composition, Brighter Visions Shine Afar, was performed before the ceremony began.

Having been master of the Queen’s Music for the final eight years of Queen Elizabeth II's reign, Ms Weir’s 10 years in the role will come to an end in 2024. She is the first woman to have held the post.

She is best known for choral, orchestral and chamber music, and operas including A Night at the Chinese Opera, Blond Eckbert and The Vanishing Bridegroom.

She studied with the composer John Tavener, among others, before going on to study at King's College, Cambridge, graduating from Cambridge in 1976. She was made a CBE in 1995.

Commanders of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)

Prof Ann Prentice, honorary senior visiting fellow of the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge
Prof Ann Prentice, honorary senior visiting fellow of the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge

Professor Ann Prentice, an honorary senior visiting fellow of the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge, who was previously honoured with an OBE, has been made a CBE for services to British and global public health nutrition.

A research scientist, her work is focused on the nutritional requirements for population health, with an emphasis on calcium and vitamin D, and explores nutritional problems in both affluent and resource-limited societies.

She has been involved in projects studying pregnant and lactating women, children, adolescents and older persons in the UK, the Gambia, Uganda, Malawi, Kenya, China, Bangladesh, India and South Africa, publishing more than 350 peer-reviewed articles, contributing to books and government reports. She has been closely involved with the National Diet and Nutrition Survey since 1992, was Chair of the UK Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition from 2010-20.

A former director of the MRC Elsie Widdowson Laboratory (previously MRC Human Nutrition Research) at Cambridge, and programme leader of the MRC Nutrition and Bone Health Research Group at Cambridge, she was also head of the calcium, vitamin D and bone health research team at MRC Unit The Gambia.

She holds, or has held, positions and memberships on government committees, royal colleges and international agencies, research councils and universities, learned societies and research charities, having completed a PhD in natural sciences at the University of Cambridge in 1978.

Prof Prentice said: “I am delighted to receive this honour on behalf of all the people, in this country and worldwide, who have worked with me to improve our understanding of the links between nutrition and health.”

Gerard Grech. Picture: Richard Marsham
Gerard Grech. Picture: Richard Marsham

Gerard Grech, the founder of Tech Nation and managing director of the newly-launched Founders at the University of Cambridge, has been made a CBE for services to the technology sector.

Mr Grech began his career in the music business and went on to work at the intersection of mobile, digital media and venture capital in New York, London and Paris in senior leadership roles at Orange, France Telecom, Nokia and Nokia Growth Partners, among others companies.

A member of the UK government’s Digital Economy Council and the World Economic Forum’s Digital Board, he was the former founding chief executive of Tech Nation, a government-based initiative supporting technology start-ups that fuelled a fivefold increase in the number of UK cities with at least one tech unicorn. Tech Nation was the ninth fastest growing technology company in the UK public sector in 2022, before it was acquired by the Founders Forum Group.

Mr Grech, from London, is now focused on Founders at the University of Cambridge, a strategic initiative focused on accelerating the formation and scaling of new technology companies. Launched in November by Cambridge Enterprise, it has already signed up 100 experts from Graphcore, Arm, Google and Stripe to support the next generation of Cambridge start-ups.

He said: “I’m honoured to have been recognised for my contribution to the growing success of the UK’s tech and startup sector which is increasingly creating globally important tech and science-backed companies, from my time at Tech Nation. This honour is also recognition of the founders, ecosystem experts, investors, policy makers and my colleagues who generously shared their knowledge and insights to support the UK’s most ambitious tech entrepreneurs. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to them all for all their hard work.”

Officers of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)

Dr Steve Brierley at Riverlane in Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell
Dr Steve Brierley at Riverlane in Cambridge. Picture: Keith Heppell

Dr Stephen Brierley, founder of quantum computing research and product development company Riverlane, has been awarded an OBE for services to quantum computing.

Dr Brierley, who founded Riverlane in 2016 to solve the error correction problem in quantum computing. Driven by his conviction that fault-tolerant quantum computers will accelerate human progress, Riverlane partners with leading quantum hardware companies to make that happen sooner. Dr Bierley holds a PhD in quantum information and spent a decade in the UK intelligence community. He arrived in Cambridge in 2014 and worked as a senior research fellow at the University of Cambridge, leading major research projects in quantum computing until 2018.

Riverlane, which is based at St Andrew’s House in the centre of Cambridge, is currently heading a consortium which is designing an operating system for quantum computing.

Dr Brierley said: “I’m humbled to receive this honour for my work on quantum computing at Riverlane. It really belongs to the many people who have been leading the charge at Riverlane – both past and present.

“The ability to harness the power of the atom to build a computer will be transformative for healthcare and climate change. A quantum computer will be a new tool enabling scientists and researchers to test ideas on a computer that today can only be tested in the laboratory – vastly increasing the speed of development for new medicines and technologies to reduce carbon emissions.

“Ever since I first learnt about quantum computing two decades ago I have wanted to make this happen sooner!

“At Riverlane we are doing this by solving the central challenge in quantum computing – which is to correct errors during the computation. Quantum bits are really fragile and without active error correction only small quantum computers could be built.”

Dr Sabesan Sithamparanathan, founder and president of PervasID. Picture: Keith Heppell
Dr Sabesan Sithamparanathan, founder and president of PervasID. Picture: Keith Heppell

Dr Sabesan Sithamparanathan, the founder and CEO of PervasID which has pioneered the world’s most accurate battery-free real-time location tracking technology, has been awarded an OBE for services to innovation technology and the promotion of STEM subjects in education in the King’s 2024 New Year Honours List.

Dr Sithamparanathan, an enterprise fellow at Girton College, founded PervasID in 2011. Born and educated in Sri Lanka, he came to the UK to study electronic engineering, arriving in Cambridge as a student electronic engineer at Arm, before commencing a PhD at the University of Cambridge in 2007. Under the supervision of Professor Ian White, in the Department of Engineering and at Corpus Christi College, he invented and developed the world’s most accurate passive ultra-high-frequency (UHF) radio-frequency identification (RFID) location tracking system that would significantly increase the range and accuracy of passive RFID tag systems.

RFID systems use electromagnetic fields to automatically identify and locate tags and the objects they are attached to. The tags each carry a unique identity and are passive, obtaining their energy from the electromagnetic fields and, therefore, needing no batteries or other power source.

As founder and president of PervasID, Dr Sithamparanathan successfully grew his company into a multimillion-dollar global enterprise, raising more than $10m in investment and launching superior products that are transforming retail, healthcare and aerospace industries.

“I am absolutely delighted to have been recognised in the New Year’s Honour list; this is a great honour and testament to the hard work and innovation of the entire team at PervasID,” said Dr Sabesan Sithamparanathan.

Look out for our full article on Dr Sithamparanathan’s honour.

Gillian Tett. Picture: University of Cambridge
Gillian Tett. Picture: University of Cambridge

Dr Gillian Tett, from the editorial board at the Financial Times, has been made an OBE for services to economic journalism.

Dr Tett, who became the 45th provost at King’s College, Cambridge, in October 2023, is renowned for her warnings ahead of the financial crisis of 2008.

She warned in a series of articles in the FT in 2006-7 about the dangers posed by securitisation and financial derivatives and the unreliability of credit rating agencies.

She is the author of the 2009 New York Times bestseller Fool's Gold: How Unrestrained Greed Corrupted a Dream, Shattered Global Markets and Unleashed a Catastrophe, which recounted the events leading to the financial collapse. More recently, she wrote the 2021 book Anthro-Vision: A New Way to See in Business and Life.

Dr Tett said: “I am deeply honoured to receive an OBE - and hope this helps to champion the importance of British intellectual capital, both in journalism and higher education. Thank you to everyone who has helped me in my career!”

After reading archaeology and anthropology at Clare College, Cambridge, Dr Tett completed her PhD in social anthropology at Cambridge, based on research conducted in the former Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

She joined the FT in 1993 as a correspondent from the former Soviet Union and Europe, before being posted to Tokyo in 1997, later becoming bureau chief.

She went on to chair the US editorial board of the Financial Times, and was its America editor-at-large, and spent time as its managing editor. She continues to write columns for the FT in her new role at Cambridge.

Among her awards are Columnist of the Year (2014), Journalist of the Year (2009) and Financial Journalist of the Year (2008) at the British Press Awards, the British Academy President’s Medal (2011), and the American Anthropological Association President’s Medal (2022).

Jane Toogood, co-chair of the Hydrogen Advisory Council, has been made an OBE for services to the low carbon hydrogen sector.

Ms Toogood, from Cambridge, is chief executive of catalyst technologies at Johnson Matthey in Royston, and was appointed in July 2022 as the UK’s first Hydrogen Champion by the then Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

In this independent expert advisor role, she engages with industry stakeholders and investors to identify barriers and enablers to investment in electrolytic hydrogen projects and Track 1 Carbon Capture Usage and Storage (CCUS) enabled projects. Ms Toogood makes recommendations to the secretary of state on what the government and industry could do to accelerate investment in the hydrogen economy.

The role covers hydrogen demand, transportation and storage and the development of a UK hydrogen supply chain.

After publishing her report on accelerating growth in the hydrogen sector early in 2023, Ms Toogood, who has an MA in natural sciences from Oxford, said: “In order to get spades in the ground for the leading hydrogen projects before the end of next year, companies investing in hydrogen and its supply chain need clarity, certainty and confidence to invest capital. Strong signals from the UK government, demonstrating a long-term commitment to hydrogen, will unlock significant investment to underpin the UK’s hydrogen economy.

“We are in a unique position to get the benefit from plentiful offshore wind and over one third of the EU’s potential CO2 storage. We have set a strong low-carbon hydrogen standard, developed our certification scheme and the business models to underpin hydrogen markets are nearing completion.”

Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)

Dr Helen Pain (Helen Abrahams), chief executive of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) and formerly chair of the board of trustees of the Science Council, is made an MBE for her services to science.

Dr Pain, from Cambridge, joined the Cambridge Science Park-based RSC in 1994 after completing a degree and PhD in chemistry, she is a chartered chemist and a chartered scientist. At the RSC, she has led many of its strategic functions, becoming deputy CEO in 2015. She is a champion for the profession and has commissioned campaigns such as Breaking the Barriers, to address gender inequality in science, Chemistry for All, to make the subject more inclusive in schools, Elements in danger, tackling sustainability issues, and the RSC’s work to support technicians.

Dr Pain became CEO of the RSC in June 2021, having held the position temporarily since January 2020. On her appointment, she said: “As a member of the RSC, and a chartered chemist, the opportunity to become chief executive is an incredible privilege and a real honour for me. Our role is to have a positive impact on the world, through the work of our community and the significant contribution that chemistry makes to all of our lives. My vision is to bring people and organisations together, globally across academia and industry, to lead programmes of change in areas that matter, for example science, culture, sustainability and education.”

In 2018, Dr Pain was appointed as chair of the Science Council, a UK organisation for the advancement of the science profession. Earlier in 2023 she was appointed chair of the board of trustees at Anglian Learning, a trust of 16 academies that provides education and learning in Cambridgeshire and neighbouring counties.

Mother and daughter Gillian Clasby and Sadie Clasby-Jarrous have been made MBEs for services to the humanitarian support of refugee children in Bulgaria.

Gil is the founder and lately teacher of the Harmanli Refugee Camp Play School in southern Bulgaria, while Sadie is the fellow founder and lately manager of the school, which is a centre for play-based learning and therapeutic play that opened in November 2014.

It enables refugee children to learn, develop and overcome trauma through therapeutic play experiences.

Gil, a qualified nursery nurse and playworker with decades of experience in working with children in and out of school, also previously owned and ran the after school and holiday club The New Croft Club, an after school and holiday club at Newnham Croft Primary School in Cambridge, which was rated outstanding by Ofsted. Sadie is a qualified primary school teacher.

Gil volunteered at the camp since it opened, when there was little sanitation, no heating and very little food.

They feature on the Overseas and International List, issued by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

Dr Julia Helen Fentem, executive vice president, safety, environmental and regulatory science at Unilever, is made an MBE for her services to human health and animal welfare in the New Years Honours list at the end of 2023. Picture: Unilever
Dr Julia Helen Fentem, executive vice president, safety, environmental and regulatory science at Unilever, is made an MBE for her services to human health and animal welfare in the New Years Honours list at the end of 2023. Picture: Unilever

Dr Julia Fentem, executive vice president, safety, environmental and regulatory science at Unilever, is made an MBE for her services to human health and animal welfare.

Dr Fentem, from Kimbolton, joined Unilever in 1998 and has led its work to develop non-animal safety science, propelled by her commitment to try to end animal testing for all consumer products anywhere in the world.

Her love of animals goes back to her childhood, when she had many pets, her love of science grew during her school days, and studied biochemistry and toxicology at university. After completing her PhD, her first job was with a science-based animal protection organisation. She moved to Italy to take up a science leadership position with the European Commission, where she led the validation and regulatory acceptance of several non-animal methods, and then joined Unilever. She is head of Unilever’s Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre (SEAC).

In 2011, the Humane Society of the United States presented Dr Fentem with the Russell and Burch Award, citing her role as “instrumental in initiating Unilever’s ambitious scientific research program”.

Maxine Ficarra, from Ely, formerly chief executive officer of PraxisAuril, is made an MBE for her services to knowledge exchange.

She joined PraxisAuril, a world-leading professional association for knowledge exchange practitioners based at St John’s Innovation Centre in Cambridge, in 2002 and she was CEO until she departed in September 2022. During her 20 years there, she helped to develop a comprehensive curriculum of courses to support the knowledge exchange community, and an annual conference for sharing best practice among practitioners and stakeholders including government, funders, industry and university representatives.

On stepping down from her role, she said: “It has been both a great honour and great fun to work with so very many excellent executive team members and expert volunteers during the last 20 years to grow PraxisAuril into the highly-regarded organisation that it is today. I wish the entire team continued success and an exciting future ahead.”

Mike Frankl, from Cherry Hinton, is made an MBE for his services to charity, to homeless people and to the Jewish community in Cambridge. Until May 2021, he was chair of the board of trustees for the Milton-based Red Balloon of the Air which provides an education programme for children and young people who are out of school and unable to attend due to anxiety, bullying or illness. His is member of the Beth Shalom Reform Synagogue, in Cambridge’s Auckland Road.

Anna Lapwood is director of music at Pembroke College
Anna Lapwood is director of music at Pembroke College

Anna Lapwood, organist and director of music at Pembroke College in Cambridge, has been honoured with an MBE for services to music.

A conductor and broadcaster, she is also associate artist of the Royal Albert Hall in London and artist in association with the BBC Singers.

In 2023, she was awarded the prestigious ‘Gamechanger’ Award from the Royal Philharmonic Society, and signed to Sony Classical as an exclusive recording artist. She is a regular contributor to BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4.

Anna, 28, has been a champion for women and girls in music. She was the first female in Magdalen College Oxford’s 560-year history to be awarded the Organ Scholarship and since then has run regular organ workshops for young players around the country, hosted the Cambridge Organ Experience for Girls and has set up a girls’ choir at Pembroke College in Cambridge.

Anna said: “I feel as if this honour has inspired me to keep pushing for the causes close to my heart. Everyone should have the option to pursue a career in music. Nobody should feel they aren't welcome in our industry because of who they are. Fighting for this is rarely easy, but the joy of seeing people unlock their potential makes it all worthwhile.”

Read our full article on Anna’s reaction to the honour.

Sharon Livermore, founder, Domestic Abuse Education and director, Kameo Recruitment
Sharon Livermore, founder, Domestic Abuse Education and director, Kameo Recruitment

Sharon Livermore, from Cambridge, has been made MBE for services to the victims of domestic abuse.

Sharon, a recruitment consultant, was stalked by her then husband during her 18-month marriage, culminating in his attempt to kidnap her outside her workplace in 2015.

She has since founded Domestic Abuse Education to train employers on how to support staff affected by abuse and encourage firms to create a “safe space”.

Sharon, who is also now director of Kameo Recruitment, said: “When I found out about the honour I just cried and cried. I felt completely overwhelmed. It has sunk in a bit, but it still doesn't feel real.”

Look out for our full interview with Sharon on her honour.

Dr Rosie Trevelyan. Picture: CCI
Dr Rosie Trevelyan. Picture: CCI

Cambridge-based Dr Rosie Trevelyan has been awarded an MBE for her services to environmental science and International conservation.

For 28 years, Dr Trevelyan has been the director of the Tropical Biology Association, an international NGO with offices at the David Attenborough Building in Cambridge and at Nature Kenya in Nairobi, Kenya.

Over the last three decades, her leadership, vision and energy have developed the Tropical Biology Association into a globally-respected organisation that offers an exceptionally high standard of ecology and conservation training to scientists, project managers and educators working to manage and safeguard tropical biodiversity in the long term. This training comes from TBA’s flagship field courses, innovative specialist workshops and their online platform.

Dr Trevelyan is also a founding member of the Cambridge Conservation Initiative and Cambridge Conservation Forum and is credited with doing much to champion opportunities for women in conservation.

Dr Alison Thomas told the Cambridge Independent: “Dr Trevelyan’s lifelong dedication has inspired and empowered a generation of conservationists. These young leaders are in turn making a significant impact through undertaking research, protecting endangered species, changing public opinion, restoring habitats, managing natural resources sustainably and gathering evidence to influence policy. Dr Trevelyan believes in the potential of individuals to make a difference in conservation. She has devoted her life and her rare combination of qualities to inspire and enable many people to do exactly that.”

Dr Trevelyan features on the Overseas and International List, issued by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

Dr Elizabeth Williams, known as Kay, who is head of international chemicals, pesticide and hazardous waste at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has been honoured with an MBE for services to the international environment and charitable service through Bees Abroad.

Dr Williams, from Cambridge, has been involved in international environment issues for more than 20 years, holding a number of policy and research roles within the government.

She is responsible for oversight of international negotiations and activities on chemicals and waste at Defra, including UN multilateral environment agreements and frameworks, and the strategic approach to international chemicals management.

Dr Williams leads on the responsible development of nanotechnologies in the UK, helping to ensure there is an effective but proportionate regulatory framework and she was head of delegation for the UN negotiations for a global legally binding treaty on mercury. Her work also covers other international conventions, including Stockholm, which deals with persistent organic pollutants and SAICM (Strategic Approach to Chemicals Management).

She has a PhD from Imperial College and began her career in applied research at the Central Science Laboratory before moving to government policy in 1999, and also spent a couple of years at the British Embassy in Paris as a sustainable development and food safety attaché.

Passionate about protecting the environment and working with communities, Dr Williams is a trustee at Bees Abroad and a novice beekeeper herself.

The charity works directly with communities and partners to train local beekeepers in best practices, business skills and environmental protection.

Bibliophile Joan Winterkorn, from Cambridge, has been awarded an MBE for services to heritage and culture.

Joan, who has lived in the city since the late 1970s after leaving her native United States, is an expert on archives and literary and historical manuscripts.

She is archive and manuscript consultant, and was formerly in the antiquarian and rare book trade.

As a consultant Joan has advised the government, serving on the Acceptance in Lieu Panel at Arts Council England and supporting the Export Reviewing Committee - bodies concerned with assessing items taken in place of Inheritance Tax and with controlling the export of artefacts.

Having worked for archives and libraries across Britain, as well as for the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund, Joan was awarded the Benson Medal by the Royal Society of Literature in 2006.

In Cambridge, she played a vital role in enabling the Churchill Archive Centre to acquire the papers of Sir Winston Churchill and Lady Thatcher and the University Library to gain those of Siegfried Sassoon and Dame Margaret Drabble.

In 2019, the then Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, Professor Stephen Toope conferred the honorary degree of Master of Arts on Joan.

During his specially composed Latin speech presenting her for the degree, the university’s Orator, Dr Rupert Thompson, recalled Winterkorn’s own words: “I love the business of valuing archives, of exploring a box, a trunk, a room full of papers and letting them tell me their story. I never know what I might find, and in every archive there is something unexpected and revealing.”

The honorary MA is rarely conferred, recognising outstanding contributions to the county, city or University of Cambridge.

Joan has degrees from Cornell University (BA) and the State University of New York at Albany (MLS Hons).

Nicola Wood, from Stapleford, has been made an MBE for services to regulation.

Nicola is senior independent director at the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).

She has more than a decade’s experience of leading public sector boards, mainly in financial services and health.

Nicola is a specialist in dispute resolution and a former solicitor. She has a particular interest in helping vulnerable consumers and helping businesses to help them too.

She also chair’s the ICO’s Remuneration Advisory Sub-Committee.

Medallists of the Order of the British Empire (BEM)

A British Empire Medal has been awarded to Sheila Betts, from Cambridge, for services to young people. Sheila is chair and volunteer at The Jarman Centre, which is Girlguiding Cambridgeshire East’s residential centre in Newmarket, Suffolk.

Former Whittlesford parish councillor Kenneth Winterbottom has been honoured with a BEM for services to the village community. Mr Winterbottom stood down from the council in 2022 after serving 44 years.

At the time, parish council chairman Arthur Greaves said it was an “end of an era” and added: “Ken has given an outstanding and incredible contribution to the council over the years and both he and his knowledge will be greatly missed.”

A BEM has also been awarded to Lorna Woor, from the Cambridge area, for services to the community.

In Peterborough, there are British Empire Medals for Moez Nathu, chief executive of Peterborough Asylum and Refugee Community Association, for services to refugees and asylum seekers in Peterborough, and for John Sharman, for services to the community in Peterborough.

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