Honours for sporting and community heroes

By Beth Allcock on December 31, 2012 2:10 PM |

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Those responsible for London's Olympic successes both on the track and behind the scenes in 2012 have been rewarded with titles in the Queen's New Year honours list.

Members of the Canary Wharf-based London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), which conducted preparations for 2012's sporting spectacular from its offices in Churchill Place, were recognised with a range of accolades.

LOCOG chairman Lord Sebastian Coe was granted a Companion of Honour, an order of the Commonwealth realms awarded to those who show outstanding achievements in the arts, literature, music, science, politics, industry or religion.

The body's CEO, Lord Deighton, was selected for a knighthood, alongside deputy chairman Sir Keith Mills, in recognition of their key contributions to the Games.

Ruth MacKenzie, director of the Cultural Olympiad, has been made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) and LOCOG"s director of communications, Jacqueline Brock-Doyle, received an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) honour.

And recognising his services to athletics on the track, particularly during the summer when he became the king of the 10,000 and 5,000 metre events, Newham and Essex Beagle Mo Farah has been granted a CBE.

London Mayor Boris Johnson said: "The success of the London 2012 Games was not down to chance - it was down to a cast of thousands of athletes, volunteers and staff who worked tirelessly to ensure our city delivered on its promise to put on the greatest show on Earth.

"There can be no doubt that the efforts of Team GB and Paralympics GB provided a truly amazing spectacle, inspiring people into sport, and it is only right they are properly honoured for their contribution."

And although sport had a heavy presence in the 2013 list, the honours also provided the opportunity for previously unsung community heroes to shine.

Asim Iftikhar, service manager for communities and neighbourhoods at Poplar Harca, spoke of his "total shock" at being granted a British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to the community.

The 43-year-old, who grew up in Stratford before moving to Poplar, is tasked with managing the community provisions for the social landlord, which manages about 8,500 homes in the area as well as offering opportunities for its residents including employment, training, work to combat anti-social behavior and support for those not in education, employment or training schemes.

"The jewel in the crown was last year - our community event got together close to about 1,000 people from all walks of life," said Asim, whose role is to assist residents with the opportunities.

"There was no divisions or anything, it was very harmonious and when you do that and see those people it's amazing and very rewarding really."

And Asim said his nomination, put forward jointly by Poplar Harca director Babu Bhattacherjee and MP Jim Fitzpatrick, was a complete surprise.

"I got the letter in the post and I thought it was a hoax," he said.

"I thought it was just one of those circulars you get, so I actually didn't do anything about it for a day or so.

"I went to meet my director for something totally unrelated and showed him the letter and he said I was nominated"

He added: "I was shocked to start with but I am immensely, immensely proud.

"I am actually grateful, number one, they recognise the work I do but I love doing the work, I am so passionate about it, it is just really great to get recognition.

"It was a fantastic Christmas present."

Yeoman Donald Simms, of the Greenwich Foundation for the Old Royal Naval College, will also receive a BEM for services to the Greenwich Community.

John Burton, director of Westfield Stratford City and director of development at Westfield, was also recognised with an OBE.

The honours will be presented later this year.