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Queen’s birthday honours: Marcus Rashford and Joe Wicks among COVID heroes rewarded

The Queen’s birthday honours list is dominated by COVID-19 heroes, from famous faces such as Marcus Rashford and Joe Wicks, to key workers and volunteers who helped with Britain’s fight against coronavirus.

The list would usually be released in June but was postponed to include people, such as medical workers and fundraisers, who have been instrumental in the COVID-19 effort.

Footballer Marcus Rashford has been made an MBE after campaigning to make sure vulnerable children still received proper meals during the pandemic.

His campaign forced the government to make a U-turn over free school meal provision.

“As a young black man from Wythenshawe, never did I think I would be accepting an MBE, never mind an MBE at the age of 22,” Rashford said.

“This is a very special moment for myself and my family, but particularly my mum who is the real deserving recipient of the honour.

“The fight to protect our most vulnerable children is far from over.”

Body coach Joe Wicks is also being made an MBE for helping children keep active and mentally fit during lockdown.

He said: “My childhood and how I grew up, if you met me as a little boy you’d have thought ‘He’s not going to go anywhere, he’s not going to do anything great’.

“But I’ve turned it around and I really am proud I’ve become this person who’s helping people.”

Derrick Evans, more commonly known as Mr Motivator, has also been made an MBE.

Speaking to Sky News, he said he felt humbled to be on the list.

“We have mobilised and we have been looking after each other and I believe we must endorse that and continue to push that message that we can’t do it alone,” he said.

“The most successful athlete has to have a team of people around him, well equally all of us, we need each other.”

Earlier this week, news leaked of damehoods for former Great British Bake Off judge Mary Berry and actress Maureen Lipman, best known for her roles in BT adverts in the 1980s and currently in Coronation Street.

Ms Berry said she was “absolutely overwhelmed” at receiving a damehood, adding: “I just wish my parents and brothers were here to share my joy, as my only achievement at school was just one O-level – in cookery, of course.

“However, I am sure they are looking down and smiling.”

Meanwhile, Sir David Attenborough, receives a Knight Grand Cross in the diplomatic list for services to broadcasting and conservation.

For services to music, British rapper Dizzee Rascal has been made an MBE, while hip hop duo Krept and Konan are awarded the BEM.

There are knighthoods for actor David Suchet for services to drama and charity and Tommy Steele, dubbed Britain’s “first rock n roll star”, for services to entertainment and charity.

There are CBEs for the University of Manchester’s Professor Brian Cox, TV presenter Lorraine Kelly, actor Adrian Lester and singer-songwriter Joan Armatrading.

In total, 1,495 honours make up this year’s list, with 414 given to unsung heroes who responded to the pandemic.

It’s also the most ethnically diverse list to date, with 13% of recipients from a minority ethnic background.

Rajinder Singh, the 73-year-old nicknamed the skipping Sikh, has been made an MBE for his fundraising efforts.

He raised thousands of pounds for the NHS through the videos he posted online.

He said: “Really I don’t want to be famous or popular, I just want to do for a good cause.

“I always bless people, they make me popular, I’m nothing, I’m a crazy person and when someone says you’re mad, this is a blessing to me that’s what I learn. All religions should respect and come together.”

Among the NHS workers to receive honours is chief pharmacist for the Royal Marsden hospital Jatinder Harchowal, who has been made an MBE.

He spent eight weeks away from home helping to set up London’s Nightingale hospital.

Speaking about his MBE he said: “It’s humbling and it’s touching to know it’s been recognised. We’re grateful for that.

“All of us at the NHS, we work for the NHS because we want to do our best for patients and health of the nation. You don’t go in expecting to be recognised. So really heart-warming and touching to have that honour.”

In sport, former long distance runner Brendan Foster receives a knighthood for services to international and national sport and culture in the North East.

Former Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas is made a CBE, while cricketer Darren Gough is made an MBE.

The honours committee received over 4,000 nominations since May, many more than they would usually receive in a year, a reflection of people’s desire to recognise those who’ve gone above and beyond during the pandemic.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “This year’s honours recipients are a testament to the sort of country we are – caring, compassionate and resolute in the face of a global pandemic.

“The hard work and dedication of these local, often unsung heroes has helped carry us through. I congratulate them all.”

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