New Year’s Honours for Yorkshire heroes

David Watson with the heart valve.

David Watson with the heart valve.

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A former Leeds heart surgeon who established the first-ever unit for heart research at Killingbeck Hospital is among those recognised in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List.

David Watson, who will be presented with an MBE for services to cardiothoracic surgery and charitable medical research, also founded the charity Heart Research UK, which celebrates its 45th birthday next month.

The charity was started after a public appeal by Mr Watson, who went onto establish the country’s first heart research unit at Killingbeck.

He and his team also invented the Killingbeck Valve, an artificial heart valve which is still in use after more than 30 years.

He said: “I was delighted and surprised to receive this honour and see it as a tribute to all those who have worked so hard for Heart Research UK.

“The charity was started to make surgical treatment safer and more effective and I feel we have helped to achieve so much.”

A foster mum from Leeds who cared for more than 100 children over a 30-year period has also received an MBE.

Stephanie Martin, who along with her husband Bill Kilgallon OBE has dedicated her life to helping vulnerable youngsters, will be presented with the award for services to children and families.

Stephanie and Bill – former chief executive of St Gemma’s Hospice who was the Lord Mayor of Leeds from 1990 to 1991 – retired from fostering last year and now live in Auckland, New Zealand.

A spokeswoman for Leeds City Council said: “We offer Stephanie our sincere congratulations on this award, which is richly deserved.

“Stephanie and her husband Bill showed exceptional dedication and made a huge difference to the lives of the children they fostered.”

Meanwhile, a police constable from Leeds who established a drop-in centre at a domestic violence charity run by and for South Asian women has been honoured with a Queen’s Police Medal (QPM).

PC Geeta Lota’s work has enabled unreported incidents to be brought to police notice and she also organises an annual domestic violence campaign.

She said: “My work is very much about empowering and engaging with the community.

“It’s rewarding work and I’m delighted to have been recognised with this award.”

West Yorkshire Police’s deputy chief superintendent Andy Brennan said he was “thrilled and delighted” to also receive the QPM.

He added: “I’ve known about it for a couple of weeks but you have to keep it secret, so it’s been torturous because I’ve been wanting to tell all my colleagues and friends.

“It’s been a very nice surprise.”

Irma Heyliger, chair of the Leeds Black Achievers Wings Awards, receives an OBE for services to black and minority ethnic people in Leeds.

The awards, organised by the Mary Seacole Halfway House in Chapeltown – which helps homeless and vulnerable young people – honour children and adults from black and ethnic minorities for their outstanding efforts.

Coun Mark Burns-Williamson, Wakefield councillor and chairman of West Yorkshire Police Authority, has also received an OBE for services to the community, having served as a ward councillor in Castleford for many years.

He said: “I am proud to have served the people of Castleford over the years, just as I am proud to have served on and led the Police Authority.

“The work is extremely challenging but very rewarding and I enjoy it immensely.”

Retired headteacher Shirley Woodman, from Roundhay, has been awarded an MBE for services to the community after climbing Yorkshire’s Three Peaks at the age of 80. Mrs Woodman completed the birthday challenge in 2009, in just under 12 hours.

Two representatives from the University of Leeds have also received an OBE and an MBE respectively – Prof Peter Jennings Buckley, professor of international business, and Dr Kathleen Hodgson, director of learning and teaching support.

Sporting heroes recognised include Leeds Rhinos player Jamie Peacock – given an MBE for services to rugby league – and legendary cricket umpire Dickie Bird MBE, who receives an OBE for services to cricket and charity.

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