One of the city’s top educators, a man who helped stage the Tour de France in Leeds, captains of industry and those who care for our communities are among those recognised in the New Year’s Honours.
The highest honour this year went to John Townsley, executive principal of the Gorse Academics Trust, who was awarded a knighthood for services to education.
The Trust runs the city’s largest free school, the Ruth Gorse Academy which opened this year, and both Morley and Farnley academies.
The city’s brightest business minds were also honoured, with Frank Hester, founder of Horsforth-based healthcare IT company TPP awarded an OBE for services to healthcare.
He said it had been “extremely difficult” to keep the secret since he found out a few weeks ago.
“I was really surprised, it’s just such an honour to be recognised for a job that I get up and do every day. I’ve been running this company for nearly 20 years and work alongside such fantastic people that sometimes it really doesn’t feel like a job at all,” he said.
Also in the field of industry, Jeffrey Utley, of Otley, a committee member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology was awarded an MBE for services to Engineering in Yorkshire.
Michael Till, operations manager at the Carbon Capture Pilot Plant in Ferrybridge was awarded an MBE for services to the Energy Sector and to the community in Castleford.
Tour de France project coordinator for Leeds Council, Peter Smith, was awarded an MBE for services to sports development in the city and for his work on the Grand Depart. After the success of the Tour in Leeds, he travelled to Holland to advise the Dutch on how to host the sporting event.
However, there was no award for Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity, who was widely credited for bringing the Tour to Leeds and Yorkshire.
There was also recognition for leading figures in the city’s arts world.
Janet Smith, principal of the Northern School of Contemporary Dance was awarded an MBE for services to dance, and Leeds-based Marguerite Porter, director of the Yorkshire Ballet Summer School, was also awarded an MBE for services to ballet.
Community heroes were also honoured. Brenda Swithenbank, of Wakefield, was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to Leeds South West Trefoil Guild and to the community in Tingley, and Ronald Pilkington, group Scout Leader of the 17th South West Leeds Scout Group was given an MBE for services to Young People.
Leeds businessman John Hall, chair of trustees of the Mirfield-based educational and residential care charity the Hollybank Trust, was given an MBE for his services to children and adults with special needs and disabilities.
Mr Hall, 67, of Sandal, Wakefield, has devoted the past 25 years to the trust, playing a key role in transforming it from a small charity into an £11m organisation. He is also chief executive of city transport firm Volvox Group.
He said: “When the letter came it was a bit of a shock, but the main thing is I accepted it for all the people at Hollybank who have worked here.”
A dementia specialist who this week celebrates 40 years in nursing had a double celebration when she was awarded an MBE.
Anita Ruckledge, lead nurse for dementia care at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, began her career as a pupil orthopaedic nurse at Pinderfields General Hospital.
She said: “It is really humbling to be honoured in this way and I am so proud of the work that we do here as a team.
“I am privileged to be able to do a job that I really love and I believe it is my vocation. This is a work that you have to do with passion and I am so lucky to be able to do this every day.”
Sharon White, a founding member of the School and Public Health Nurses Association, from Leeds, was awarded an OBE for services to Public Health Nursing for School Aged Children.