Page last updated at 01:06 GMT, Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Golden stars head Welsh honours

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Ellie Simmonds looks forward to a trip to Buckingham Palace and a shopping trip to Louis Vuitton

Many of the Welsh heroes from the British Olympic and Paralympic teams are included in the New Year Honours.

Pontypridd swimmer David Roberts, who won four gold medals at the Paralympics in Beijing, becomes a CBE.

Swansea-based swimmer Eleanor Simmonds, a Paralympic double gold medallist, is made an MBE at the age of 14, the youngest person to receive the honour.

Olympic cycling champion Nicole Cooke is an MBE while Frost/Nixon actor Michael Sheen receives an OBE.

Sheen, who was brought up in Port Talbot, has won rave reviews for playing a variety of famous faces.

Michael Sheen
Clockwise from top left: Michael Sheen as himself, Kenneth Williams, David Frost and Brian Clough

These range from comedy actor Kenneth Williams to former prime minister Tony Blair twice in the films The Deal and Oscar-winning The Queen.

Sheen said: "This is a huge honour. I am both thrilled and slightly mystified. But very grateful. It'll be nice to meet the real Queen at last."

He has also played David Frost in the stage play - and new film version - of Frost/Nixon, inspired by the landmark TV interviews with disgraced US president Richard Nixon.

Sheen will also be seen next year in the film adaption of The Damned United, based on David Peace's novel about Brian Clough's short-lived period as Leeds United manager.

More than 60 people from Wales receive honours, including Rosie Swale-Pope, aged 62, who said she was "very lucky" and "very proud" with her MBE, after spending five years running around the world.

But it is the Welsh athletes and coaches who enjoyed so much success in Beijing who feature most prominently.

Rosie Swale Pope, Eleanor Simmonds, Nicole Cook, David Roberts, Dee Edwards and Raymond Smith are among those receiving New Year Honours

Roberts, from Pontypridd, secured his place in Paralympic history by winning his eleventh gold medal.

He equalled fellow Welsh athlete Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson's haul with his world record time in the 50m freestyle.

Simmonds, from Walsall but based in Swansea, capped off a fantastic year after being named the BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year for 2008 earlier this month.

She won gold in the 100m and 400m freestyle at the Paralympics and became Britain's youngest individual Paralympic gold medallist at just 13.

She said the last three months had been a "whirlwind".

FULL HONOURS LIST
Geraint Thomas, Nicole Cooke and Tom James
Geraint Thomas, Nicole Cooke and Tom James all become MBEs
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Cooke, from Wick, Vale of Glamorgan, also enjoyed a memorable year, starting Great Britain's gold medal rush at the Olympics when she won the women's road race.

She also became world road race champion in Italy a month later with another gutsy sprint finish.

Other honours went to David Brailsford, who masterminded Team GB's cycling success in Beijing, who is appointed CBE while swimming coaches Billy Pye and Dave Haller become MBEs.

Cyclist Simon Richardson from Porthcawl, who was seriously injured in a cycling accident in 2001 and won two gold medals at the Paralympics, becomes an MBE.

Olympic gold medal-winning cyclist Geraint Thomas is also an MBE, as is golden Olympic rower Tom James.

Wales is well represented in other walks of life, with conductor Owain Arwel Hughes becoming a CBE for services to music and charity.

Owain Arwel Hughes
Owain Arwel Hughes has worked with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales

His career has spanned 40 years and he has conducted and recorded with many leading orchestras, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of which he is principal associate conductor.

Dee Edwards from Caernarfon, Gwynedd, co-founder of Mothers Against Murder and Aggression, becomes an MBE for services to vulnerable people.

William Dickson from Chepstow, director of the Welsh Centre for Burns and Plastic Surgery at Morriston Hospital, Swansea, is appointed MBE for services to medicine.

Mr Dickson and his team were closely involved in the role the centre played following the Port Talbot Corus explosion in 2001.

He also operated on badly-burned five-year-old girl Sidra Afzal in 2007, implanting a gel-filled balloon under her scalp to allow new skin and hair to grow.

Other MBEs reflected the tapestry of community life, including Samuel Evans, of Pennal near Machynlleth, who is founder member of the Meirionnydd National Vintage Tractor and Engine Club and Raymond Smith, who retired as a senior carpenter at the National History Museum at St Fagans near Cardiff.

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SEE ALSO
Indie film awards to honour Sheen
28 Oct 08 |  Entertainment
Golden swimmer with a will to win
14 Sep 08 |  South East Wales
Roberts & Simmonds shine in pool
14 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport
Simmonds makes history with gold
08 Sep 08 |  Disability Sport
In pictures: Runner returns home
26 Aug 08 |  In Pictures
Olympic road race glory for Cooke
10 Aug 08 |  Beijing 2008

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