Unsung heroes are recognised for achievements

Gilly Love of Whitley Bay-honoured for services to music in the community in the New Years Honours List.
Gilly Love of Whitley Bay-honoured for services to music in the community in the New Years Honours List.

FOUR community champions from North Tyneside have been recognised in the New Year’s Honours List.

They stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Paralympic winning athletes, doctors, scientists, charity fundraisers and captains of industry from across the region who have also been commended.

Among those honoured was lifeboatman and Dove Marine Laboratory porter Robert Oliver.

The 47-year-old, of Cullercoats, received a British Empire Medal for his services to higher education and to the village of Cullercoats.

Robert, who has worked at Newcastle University’s Dove Marine Laboratory in Cullercoats, for eight years, said: “It is a great honour.

“To just have my name put forward is an honour but to receive it, even more so.

“Most of it would be for my 30 years service to the Cullercoats Lifeboat where I was a leading helmsman.

“I would love to know who put my name forward.”

Elsewhere on the list, Gillian Quinn, founder of Gillian Quinn School of Theatre Dance in Whitley Bay, was appointed an MBE for her services to dance.

Gillian, 76, of North Shields, who set up the school in 1957, said: “It all came out of the blue.

“I had no idea anyone was putting my name forward.

“I still feel that I will wake up one morning to find it was all a wonderful dream.”

Former creative director of the Silver Programme at the Sage Gateshead, Gilly Love, is appointed an MBE for her services to music in the community.

The 60-year-old helped raise more than £10,000 for charity last year through the Whitley Women Community Choir, of which she is musical director.

Gilly, of Whitley Bay, said: “Although I have been given the MBE, it is about everybody.

“I could not have done it myself.

“It’s all about working with choirs and different music groups so everyone should share in it.”

And there was also an MBE for Colonel Ian Mackenzie, of Whitley Bay, for his voluntary service to St John Ambulance in Northumbria.

Ian, 71, has been volunteering for the first aid charity for more than 20 years.

He said: “It is a great honour to be recognised but I also say I am only as good at the team that I have.

“It is also a great honour for St John Ambulance to be recognised for what it does in the community.”

They join the region’s top athletes who were also recognised on the list for their incredible achievements at London 2012.

These include South Tyneside paralympic swimmer Josef Craig and Durham rower Katherine Copeland.

An MBE also went to 20-year-old Lily van den Broecke, of Durham, who coxed Great Britain’s mixed four to victory during the Paralympics.

Top honours also went to Newcastle’s John James Fenwick, deputy chairman of Fenwick Ltd, who is appointed an Order of the British Empire CBE (Commander) for services to the retail business.

Meanwhile, Newcastle-born physicist Professor Peter Higgs, who theorised the existence of the eponymous Higgs Boson, received the highest level of commendation of anyone in the north east, becoming a companion of the Order of Bath. Jeremy Beeton, director-general at the government Olympic executive, of Stanhope, County Durham, joins him in his services to the London 2012 games.