Birthday Honours 2015: Van Morrison and Kevin Spacey head list

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image caption(Clockwise from top left) Van Morrison, Kevin Spacey, Jo Pavey, and Frank Lampard

Singer-songwriter Van Morrison and US actor Kevin Spacey have been given knighthoods in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.

The Belfast-born star was recognised for services to music, and tourism in Northern Ireland, the inspiration for many of his hits.

There were only eight new dames in the list, compared with more than three times as many knights.

But overall, more than half (51%) of recipients were women, outnumbering men for only the second time in honours history.

The dames include Frances Ashcroft, professor of physiology at the University of Oxford, known for her groundbreaking research into type two diabetes; Prof Anne Glover, former chief scientific advisor to the European Commission, and businesswoman Zarine Kharas, founder of the charity website.

There are also damehoods for the deputy governor of the Bank of England Nemat Shafik and forensic scientist Angela Gallop.

'Adopted son'

Spacey, who is soon to step down after 10 years as artistic director of the Old Vic theatre in London, said he felt like "an adopted son" after his honorary award for services to British theatre and international culture was announced.

While Morrison said: "Throughout my career I have always preferred to let my music speak for me, and it is a huge honour to now have that body of work recognised in this way.

Former Welsh rugby captain Gareth Edwards is knighted, and there are OBEs for ex-England footballer Frank Lampard, and England's record-breaking cricketer James Anderson.

Long distance runner Jo Pavey and Ebola nurse Will Pooley are among the MBEs. Journalist Caroline Criado-Perez, who successfully campaigned to keep a woman on a British banknote, is made an OBE.

The same honour goes to Oscar-winning actor Eddie Redmayne and entertainer Michael Ball, and Twelve Years A Slave actor Chiwetel Ejiofor and Paddington Bear creator Michael Bond become CBEs.

Ball, who described himself as "a proper royalist", said he was "chuffed to bits" and his 80-year-old father burst into tears on hearing the news.

media captionLenny Henry: "The phone was on fire for about 48 hours... it's been great"
image copyrightChris Ratcliffe
image captionJournalist and gender equality campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez, was recognised with an OBE
image copyrightPA
image captionMichael Bond, the creator of Paddington Bear, becomes a CBE at the age of 89

There are 1,163 people on the list. Recipients range in age from 17-year-old Natasha Lambert, from the Isle of Wight, who was born with athetoid cerebral palsy and is recognised for her charitable fundraising, to 103-year-old allergy research pioneer Dr William Frankland.

Queen's Birthday Honours 2015


people honoured


for community work

  • 103 age of oldest recipient, Dr William Frankland

  • 17 age of youngest, Natasha Lambert

  • 51% of recipients are women


Conductor Sir Neville Marriner and former Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Lord Woolf - who chaired the inquiry into the 1990 Strangeways prison riot - have been appointed members of the elite Companions of Honour.

Gareth Edwards's knighthood is for sporting and charitable work, while former Wales fly-half Jonathan Davies said he was "extremely humbled" to be given an OBE in recognition of his fundraising for Cardiff's Velindre Cancer Centre.

Cricketer James Anderson, who became England's record highest Test wicket-taker in April, said: "I'm very proud of my recent achievements, and this just caps it off."

Lampard, who is Chelsea's all-time leading goalscorer but spent last season at Manchester City ahead of a move to the US, described his OBE as "an extremely proud moment for myself and my family".

image copyrightPA
image captionEngland women's former football captain Casey Stoney, currently competing in the World Cup, was made MBE
image copyrightGetty Images
image captionAnderson said his OBE caps off his recent achievements
image copyrightPA
image captionAfter rumours proved false last year, England rugby star Jonny Wilkinson now has a CBE

Meanwhile, England women's former football captain Casey Stoney, currently competing in the World Cup in Canada, was named an MBE, along with boxing super middleweight champion Carl Froch.

Stoney told the BBC: "My first reaction was compete and utter shock. Then I was completely overwhelmed and then obviously very, very proud."

And Froch told BBC Radio Nottingham: "It's fantastic for me, my sport, my city and my family. It was a massive honour and a big surprise."

Rugby Union star Jonny Wilkinson, whose name was wrongly reported to be in the last set of honours, becomes a CBE for his dedication to the game.

Gender gap

Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, said the gender divide at the top of the list was reflective of wider society but she was encouraged to see so many women make the overall list.

The feminist writer, whose online project project to catalogue women's experiences of sexual harassment in the UK became a worldwide movement, was herself awarded a British Empire Medal.

Speaking of the lack of new dames, Miss Bates said: "This is a massive problem across society, but obviously I would like to see the [Honours List] balance redressed at the top, it's important."

Sir Jonathan Stephens, chairman of the Honours Committee, said there was "still a way to go", adding the committee works hard to ensure a wide pool of nominations.

The honours system

Commonly awarded ranks:

  • Companion of honour - Limited to 65 people. Recipients wear the initials CH after their name
  • Knight or Dame
  • CBE - Commander of the Order of the British Empire
  • OBE - Officer of the Order of the British Empire
  • MBE - Member of the Order of the British Empire
  • BEM - British Empire Medal

High-profile leaks

The names of some high-profile winners were leaked, with newspapers reporting comedian Lenny Henry's knighthood and Sherlock Holmes actor Benedict Cumberbatch's CBE days ahead of the official announcement.

Sir Lenny, a long-time supporter of the BBC's Comic Relief, said the knighthood was "like being filled with lemonade", but also paid tribute to the thousands of people who have raised more than £1bn for the charity.

Broadcaster and chef Loyd Grossman is made a CBE for services to heritage. He is chairman of both the Heritage Alliance and the Churches Conservation Trust.

media captionSteven Moffat: "I was astonished at the idea I would get something like this"
image copyrightPA
image captionA CBE for Chiwetel Ejiofor and an OBE for Eddie Redmayne
image captionMartin Clunes's OBE is for services to drama, charity and the community in Dorset

There are OBEs for BBC Radio 5 live presenter Nicky Campbell for his role as patron of the British Association for Adoption and Fostering, and Doc Martin and Men Behaving Badly actor Martin Clunes for services to drama, charity and the community in Dorset.

Steven Moffat, television writer and producer of Doctor Who and Sherlock, and actress Lesley Manville are both named OBEs for services to drama.

TV producer Nigel Lythgoe - dubbed "Nasty Nigel" on ITV talent show Popstars before going on to help create Pop Idol - is made an OBE for services to the performing arts, education and charity.

'Brave volunteers'

Will Pooley, 30, the first British person to contract Ebola, was named an MBE for his services in tackling the outbreak in Africa. The Suffolk nurse, who is now back in England, sparked an outpouring of support when he flew back to continue to help sufferers.

Also honoured for his major role in the Ebola crisis is Dr Oliver Johnson, who is made an OBE his overseas service in Sierra Leone. He paid tribute to "the efforts of extraordinary local health workers and international volunteers" while the Foreign Office said his swift actions in response to the initial outbreak saved many lives.

Among politicians on the list are Simon Burns, Conservative MP for Chelmsford for nearly 30 years, and former Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes, who lost his seat in May. They were both given knighthoods for public and political service.

Also recognised with a knighthood is Michael Davis, chairman of the Prime Minister's Holocaust Commission, and Duwayne Brooks, who was with murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence when he was killed in a racist attack in 1993 and is now a now a Liberal Democrat councillor, was made an OBE for public and political service.

GMB leader Paul Kenny said he saw his knighthood for his service to trade unions as a recognition of efforts to stand up against exploitation and bullying.

However, he went on to add that he would "swap it tomorrow for the introduction of the Living Wage", in an interview with the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

image copyrightPA
image captionWilliam Pooley, a British nurse who contracted Ebola while volunteering in West Africa, is made MBE
image copyrightPA
image captionFormer Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes, who lost his seat in May, was given a knighthood

'Finally recognised'

The list acknowledges the work of a number of campaigners.

Gordon Aikman, a 30-year-old campaigner from Edinburgh, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, also receives the BEM. His campaign inspired Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling, opposing politicians during the Scottish referendum campaign, to undertake the ice bucket charity challenge.

image copyrightPA
image captionHistorian Philippa Langley, originator of the "Looking for Richard III" project, receives an MBE
image captionBBC cameraman Peter Cooper, who captured Northern Ireland on film over a 46 year career, was made MBE

In broadcasting, former director of the BBC World Service Peter Horrocks becomes a CBE. Veteran cameraman Peter Cooper, who spent 46 years working in BBC News Northern Ireland, including capturing many famous images of the Troubles and the Peace Process, was made an MBE.

A knighthood for Andreas Whittam Smith, former editor of the Independent newspaper, recognises his public service, particularly his work for the Church of England.

There were also MBEs for Philippa Langley and Louis Ashdown-Hill, two historians instrumental in the discovery of Richard III's remains in a Leicester council car park, and the campaign which resulted in his reburial in Leicester Cathedral earlier this year.

In education, Nicholas Weller, executive principal at Dixons Academies in Bradford, received a knighthood for his dedication to teaching. The announcement came in a difficult week for the chain of schools, following the stabbing of a teacher during a science class at Dixons Kings Academy on Thursday. And restaurateurs Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent have been made MBEs for their work in improving school lunches.

Community heroes

Nearly three-quarters of the list is made up of people who have dedicated themselves to outstanding work in their communities.

Katie Cutler, from Gateshead, who set up a fundraising webpage to raise £500 for visually impaired mugging victim Alan Barnes, and went on to take in £300,000, was given the British Empire Medal.

image copyrightPA
image captionKatie Cutler, who raised £300,000 for mugging victim Alan Barnes, receives the British Empire Medal

Retired lollipop lady Hazel Joan, who worked at Maes-Y-Coed School in Cardiff, was given a British Empire Medal for services to children and road safety.

Vera Selby, Britain's first ever female professional billiards and snooker referee, was made an MBE for services to snooker and billiards. The 84-year-old from Newcastle is nine times British Women's Billiards Champion and five times British Women's Snooker Champion.

An MBE also goes to Jimmy Jukes, Pearly King of Camberwell and Bermondsey in south-east London, for his charity work with homeless ex-servicemen and women.