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Thursday, January 1, 1998 Published at 06:14 GMT


PM honours the people
image: [ A collection of the medals awarded in the New Year honours ]
A collection of the medals awarded in the New Year honours

Prime Minister Tony Blair, who promised to place education at the heart of his administration, has rewarded teachers and other education workers in the traditional honours bestowed by the Queen in the New Year.

For the first time there are three knighthoods for headteachers in state schools, and 55 awards for others involved in education.

Two-thirds of this year's awards are going to ordinary members of the public, instead of famous people, reflecting Mr Blair's pledge to make the honours system less political.

The honours system in Britain has traditionally been a way of recognising the contribution of public servants, entertainers and sports people, as well as rewarding political allies.

The Queen formally bestows the honours - and some of the names could well be her personal choices. They include two people close to Diana, Princess of Wales, and two more involved in her funeral.

[ image: Ex-Bishop of Liverpool, Dr David Sheppard, forged links between Anglican and Catholic communities]
Ex-Bishop of Liverpool, Dr David Sheppard, forged links between Anglican and Catholic communities
The Princess's most senior aide, Michael Gibbins, is honoured as well as Sydney Clarke, the man who drove the hearse on the flower-strewn journey to her final resting place,

Mr Gibbins, now treasurer of the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, is made a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order while Mr Clarke receives a Royal Victorian Medal (Silver).

Distinctive list

But the famous names are there too.

The singer Elton John, who sang Candle in the Wind at Diana's funeral, receives a knighthood, as does actor, Michael Gambon, and former England footballer, Tom Finney. Veteran BBC DJ, Alan 'Fluff', Freeman receives a CBE.

The former Conservative Party chairman and final Governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, becomes a Companion of Honour. The former Bishop of Liverpool and England batsman, Dr David Sheppard, is made a life peer.

[ image: Former Governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten:
Former Governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten: "I'm naturally delighted and, in every sense, honoured"
The Prime Minister of the day suggests the majority of those to be honoured. This year Tony Blair has avoided fellow politicians, choosing instead to concentrate on those in education.

About 40% of the awards have come as a result of recommendations made by the local community. There are also a host of honours for citizens of Commonwealth countries too.

It is the prominence given to education workers that marks this year out as a distinctive list. Next year the Government has promised to honour those who work in the National Health Service.

The Prime Minister said: "There are few more important jobs than teaching. It is for many a vocation.

'System should be modernised'

"We are rightly determined to ensure there is no place for poor teaching. The vast majority of teachers do an excellent job, and in making education the focus of this list, we are not only honouring the best of this profession, but the profession itself.

"The honours will continue to recognise achievement, self-sacrifice, generosity and innovation."

His spokesman said: "The Prime Minister believes in the honours system that recognises excellence and public service at all levels, but believes the system should be modernised."

Click here for the New Year's honours list in full.

Use our search facility at the bottom of this page to find a particular name

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