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The BBC's John McIntyre
"Elizabeth Taylor is made a dame"
 real 28k

Friday, 31 December, 1999, 09:31 GMT
Knighthood for Branson

Sir Richard Branson: Knighted for contribution to commerce

Sir Richard Branson, the entrepreneur and adventurer who created the Virgin empire, has been knighted in a spectacular millennium New Year Honours list.

The tycoon tops a list of 2,000 - more than double the usual length - including a dazzling array of stars from showbusiness and sport.

Click here to see the list in full.

Forgotten heroes honoured
The five "forgotten" heroes of England's 1966 Football World Cup winning side - Alan Ball, George Cohen, Roger Hunt, Nobby Stiles and Ray Wilson - are celebrating after all become MBEs - Member of the British Empire.

A glittering roll of honour in the world of entertainment is headed by eight-times-married Oscar-winner Elizabeth Taylor, 67, who becomes a dame in the Diplomatic List.

And retiring BBC director-general Sir John Birt becomes a peer. He is to leave the corporation two months early to take up his seat.

I will do my best to live up to it in the new millennium, as I still feel there is much to be achieved
Sir Richard Branson
But the honours are a time when the famous and the powerful stand alongside ordinary people who have made extraordinary contributions to society.

And with the celebrities stands a grieving mother who worked tirelessly for children suffering from the condition which killed her son.

Elizabeth Taylor becomes a dame
Shirley Nolan, 57, set up the Anthony Nolan Bone Marrow Trust which was the world's first national tissue register for people with leukaemia and other immune deficiency diseases. She is awarded an Order of the British Empire.

Julie Andrews, 64, star of Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music, becomes a dame, as does the veteran singing star Shirley Bassey.

Norman Wisdom, reportedly one of the Queen's favourite comedians, becomes a knight after being awarded an OBE four years ago.

And Sean Connery, the first James Bond, gets his knighthood at last.

At last 007: Sean Connery
Two years ago the honour was controversially refused by the then Scottish Secretary Donald Dewar because of Connery's support for the Scottish National Party.

Connery, 69, said: "I accept with pleasure because I consider it as much an honour for Scotland as it is for me."

Elsewhere there was a Command of the British Empire for Michael Palin, once a member of Monty Python's Flying Circus and now the BBC's globe-trotter.

In the world of sport, there is an OBE for Steve Ovett, 44, who with Seb Coe, ushered in a golden age for British athletics 20 years ago.

World champion hurdler Colin Jackson, arguably Britain's most successful sportsman in 1999, also gets an OBE.

Former heavyweight boxer Henry Cooper, 65, becomes a knight, as does the Grand Old Man of British motor racing, 70-year-old Stirling Moss.

There is an MBE for former Arsenal and Manchester United star Viv Anderson, the first black footballer to represent England and a similar honour for Steve Bull, Wolverhampton Wanderers' long-serving goal machine.

Julie Andrews: A dame
Ian Wright, the former England and Arsenal striker - now with Celtic - gets an MBE. Golfer Laura Davies gets a CBE.

There is an OBE for snooker's Steve "Interesting" Davis, 42.

And Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, the Olympic-winning skating duo, each get an OBE.

Sir John Birt is among six people elevated to the peerage.

Others include Sir Leon Brittan, former home secretary and vice-president of the European Commission, and Sally Greengross, director-general of Age Concern.

Joel Joffe, the Oxfam chairman; Adam Patel, vice-president of Blackburn Community Relations Council and counsellor, Muslim Council for Britain; and Sir Charles David Powell, director of Jardine Matheson Holdings, who was Margaret Thatcher's foreign affairs adviser at 10 Downing Street are the other new peers.

One of the oldest recipients of honours is Frances Partridge, who will be 100 in March.

She gets a CBE, and is regarded as The Last of the Bloomsbury Set, a group of radical aesthetes famous around the 1920s.

There is also an OBE in the Diplomatic List for Clive Stafford-Smith, who has campaigned for years for the lives of condemned prisoners on Death Row in the United States.

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See also:
31 Dec 99 |  Entertainment
Trio of Dames lead showbiz honours
31 Dec 99 |  Sport
People's champions knighted
31 Dec 99 |  Scotland
The name's Bond, Sir James Bond
31 Dec 99 |  Business
Branson delighted with knighthood
31 Dec 99 |  UK
In pictures: Branson's adventures
31 Dec 99 |  UK
BBC chief to enter Lords
31 Dec 99 |  Business
Captains of industry honoured
31 Dec 99 |  Wales
New Year honours for Welsh stars
31 Dec 99 |  Northern Ireland
Peerage for Parades chairman
31 Dec 99 |  UK Politics
Brittan returns to Parliament as peer
31 Dec 99 |  Education
Head wins honour for saving school
31 Dec 99 |  Sci/Tech
Computer pioneers given UK honours
31 Dec 99 |  UK
Honour for death row crusader
31 Dec 99 |  Health
Knighthood after 50 years

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