New Year’s Honours: Royal recognition for locals who make the difference

The former leader of Leeds City Council Coun Keith Wakefield (Lab).
The former leader of Leeds City Council Coun Keith Wakefield (Lab).
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DESERVING citizens and community leaders who have amassed years of dedication to their professional and voluntary endeavours have been given the royal seal of approval.

As 2015 draws to a close the annual recipients of The Queen’s New Year’s honours have been announced, and there are welcome rewards for individuals in Leeds, both high-profile and others whose committed work goes on away from the limelight.

Professor Susan Price.  Pic: Simon Hulme

Professor Susan Price. Pic: Simon Hulme

Prestigous recognition cam for the former Leeds City Council leader, Keith Wakefield, who awaits a date from Her Majesty to receive an OBE.

Labour Councillor for Kippax and Methley, Mr Wakefield, is also chairman of the transport committee at West Yorkshire Combined Authority. He was first elected to Leeds City Council in 1988 and receives the recognition for political service and services to local government.

There is an honour too for the former vice-chancellor of Leeds Beckett University, Professor Susan Price.

Prof Price, of Wetherby, is bestowed with a CBE for services to higher education, having been credited with turning around what used to be Leeds Metropolitan University.

I’m concerned about crime and the police need all the help they can get.

Mary Brewer, 77, of Wetherby

As the institution’s first female vice chancellor in January 2010, she joined at a time when the university’s finances, performance and staff morale were being called into question, but she departed her role with its reputation restored.

The sterling community efforts of local people working away from the public spotlight are also celebrated.

Mary Brewer, 77, of Wetherby, has been awarded a British Empire Medal for services to crime prevention in West Yorkshire.

As the longest-serving volunteer for West Yorkshire Police, Mrs Brewer has headed up her Wetherby Neighbourhood Watch scheme for more than 30 years.

Roundhay School head teacher Neil Clephan.

Roundhay School head teacher Neil Clephan.

She was only the second person to register a group with the force when she did so in 1985 – just three years after Britain’s first Neighbourhood Watch group was set up in Cheshire.

As a volunteer, she has also chaired the force’s Crime Prevention Panel (CPP) for the past 25 years and is currently the force’s representative on the National Neighbourhood Watch Committee, attending six-weekly national meetings. She also chairs the Yorkshire and Humber regional meetings.

Her biggest success, as chairman of the CPP, is the Locks Project which involved selling more secure replacement UPVC locks to standard ones.

As a Police Volunteer she has assisted at her local police station in Wetherby and she also gives talks to interested groups.

“I am very proud and very honoured,” Mrs Brewer said. “I’m concerned about crime and the police need all the help they can get.”

An MBE goes to Clare Harrigan, a former chairman of the board of governors at Leeds College of Building.

Ms Harrigan, 46, of Collingham near Wetherby, is given the honour for services to further education and the construction industry.

Throughout her career, she has specialised in affordable housing development and delivery, and has held head of construction roles at both the College and Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust.

Describing her honour as “overwhelming”, Ms Harrigan, who now works at Shipley-based housing association Incommunities, is passionate about opening up the industry to women.

“There are so many different roles needed to deliver housing and I have tried to open their eyes a little bit to that,” she said.

Also on the list is Wakefield health worker Paula Phillips whose work with young offenders experiencing mental health conditions earned her an MBE.

Ms Phillips works for South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s forensic child and adolescent mental health service and manages The Yorkshire Centre for Forensic Psychiatry.

Leeds police officer Asad Razzaq, 32, is another worthy MBE recipient, in his case for services to young people and the community.

As the voluntary leader of Community Action to Change Harehills, he brings together young people from across Muslim communities with Roma, Czech and Polish groups in a bid to tackle crime, community tension and opportunities for young people.

An OBE, meanwhile, goes to Roundhay School’s head teacher Neil Clephan who has been in the top job there since 1996.

After a new £4.8million primary provision was added to the school in 2013, a subsequent Ofsted inspection last year rated the school as ‘outstanding’, with Mr Clephan described as an “inspirational head teacher”, with very strong leadership.