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Last Updated: Saturday, 31 December 2005, 16:07 GMT
Arise Sir Tom, the Voice of Ponty
Residents of Sir Tom Jones' home town give their response to his knighthood

Welsh music legend Tom Jones has been knighted in the New Year's Honours, which also sees commendations in the fields of sport, arts and business.

Rugby coach Mike Ruddock, who steered Wales to their first Grand Slam in 27 years, receives an OBE.

And Test cricketers Simon Jones and Geraint Jones are rewarded with MBEs.

OBEs also go to harpist Elinor Bennett and Peredur Hughes, head of NFU Cymru, for his work in agriculture.

The New Year's Honours list, published on Saturday, sees more than 40 Welsh people officially recognised for their work and contributions to public life.

The ultimate accolade for Tom Jones, who already has an OBE, comes after a career which has brought him worldwide fame.

He will be absolutely over the moon
Sir Tom's cousin Dorothy Woodward

Nicknamed The Voice, Thomas Woodward, from Treforest, forged a career which has spanned the decades and this year saw a homecoming concert in Pontypridd, to mark his 65th birthday.

Well-known hits such as Delilah and It's Not Unusual as well as recent musical collaborations with Wyclef Jean, the Stereophonics and Cerys Matthews have brought him a wide-ranging fan base.

Sir Tom's cousin Dorothy Woodward, of Caerphilly, south Wales, said: "He will be absolutely over the moon".

"He was thrilled when he had the OBE. He will be delighted, as will the family. We wish him all the best.

"To be honest, I think it's well deserved".

Lifelong fan Ann Hughes started a letter-writing campaign to secure a knighthood for Tom around four years ago.

Mrs Hughes, from Nefyn on the Lleyn Peninsula, has been to more than 100 concerts and has her own special room dedicated to her icon.

She said: "It's been a long time coming, he so deserves it, he's an icon in his own right and has been at the top of his profession for over 41 years".

All winners - top clockwise left to right, Mike Ruddock, Simon Jones, Elinor Bennett and Harry Poloway
All winners - clockwise from left, Mike Ruddock, Simon Jones, Elinor Bennett and Harry Poloway

Glamorgan bowler Simon Jones and England wicket-keeper Geraint Jones, whose father is Welsh, both receive MBEs, along with other members of the victorious Ashes-winning cricket team and management.

Harpist Elinor Bennett receives an OBE and artist Shani Rhys-James an MBE.

One man who knows how to toast his MBE is Harry Poloway, 90, who is official toastmaster to Cardiff and Newport councils.

He said: "I knew five weeks ago but I didn't even tell my wife until three days ago, she is very pleased.

"It's a nice honour to have, I have done it since 1928 and was born and bred in Newport.

"I feel pleased - thank you very much Wales for giving me a little honour for what I think I have done to promote Wales."

Geoff and Myra Phillips, from Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan, who have been foster carers for nearly 42 years, both receive MBEs.

Boxing champion

Retired electrician Mr Phillips said: "We're gobsmacked. To give your love and be trusted with someone else's child is something special".

The couple, aged 71 and 69, still foster children and celebrate their golden wedding next year.

Giant vegetable grower Medwyn Williams, from Anglesey, who is chairman of the National Vegetable Society, receives his MBE for services to horticulture.

Another MBE goes to former Commonwealth champion Nicky Piper, the director of the British Boxing Board of Control.

CBEs include Cherry Short, Commissioner for Racial Equality in Wales, and Professor Robert Mansel, of the Wales College of Medicine.

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