New Year Honours for Northumberland residents

Coun Robert Arckless, right, is to receive an MBE.
Coun Robert Arckless, right, is to receive an MBE.
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A long-serving councillor from Amble; a dental specialist, formerly of Alnwick; Northumberland’s former fire chief and Northumbria’s PCC are among those to be recognised in the New Year Honours list.

Coun Robert Arckless, a county councillor since 1989, is to receive an MBE for services to the communities of Northumberland.

Northumberland's former Chief Fire Officer Alex Bennett. Picture by Jane Coltman

Northumberland's former Chief Fire Officer Alex Bennett. Picture by Jane Coltman

The Amble resident is currently the county council’s cabinet member for children’s services, is a former chairman of the county council and a member of numerous outside bodies, including Amble Development Trust, Amble Town Council and the Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority.

He has also been Mayor of Amble twice and is a former chairman of Alnwick District Council.

County council leader Grant Davey said: “We are delighted at this news for Robert, who has provided exemplary service to this council, numerous other organisations and the county over many years. The honour recognises Robert’s service and commitment to the community and it is difficult to think of a more deserving recipient. It is an achievement he should be extremely proud of.”

Another to be made an MBE is Professor Liz Kay, for services to dental education.

Police and Crime Commissioner Dame Vera Baird

Police and Crime Commissioner Dame Vera Baird

She is the associate dean for equality and inclusion and foundation dean at Peninsula Dental School, based at Plymouth University.

Now a resident of Liskeard, Cornwall, Liz grew up in Alnwick where she attended the former Duchess’s Grammar School.

Her mother, Cynthia Johnson, was headteacher at the school during the early 1970s, while her stepfather, John Johnson, was a local GP, who was also made an MBE. The couple passed away in 2012 and 2011 respectively.

As well as being the foundation dean of Peninsula Dental School, Prof Kay is also a public health academic consultant working regionally and nationally with Public Health England, focusing on inequalities in oral health, and programme lead for an MBA in healthcare, in collaboration with Plymouth University Business School and Healthcare Learning Company.

She has attracted more than £1.2million of research funding and published more than 150 papers and six books.

Prof Kay is also a trustee and vice-chairman of the British Medical and Dental Students’ Trust and a trustee of the British Dental Health Foundation.

Elsewhere in Northumberland, Muriel Olive Harris, 83, from Morpeth, has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for voluntary service to the community through her efforts with the Church of England and charity Practical Compassion for Destitute Children.

Alex Bennett, who retired as the county’s Chief Fire Officer in July, has been awarded the Queen’s Fire Service Medal.

He was nominated for the award after 14 years in Northumberland, described as ‘exemplary’ and ‘innovative’, and 18 years with the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service.

Northumberland County Council chief executive Steven Mason said: “Alex led the fire service through challenging times and this has now been properly rewarded. We would like congratulate him on his Queen’s Fire Service Medal and thank him for all of his hard work in the county. There is no one who is more deserving of this medal.”

Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh, is to receive an OBE for services to tobacco control and Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird is to be made a Dame for services to women and equality.

“This was very delightful and surprising news,” she said. “I am particularly pleased that the award specifically refers to services to the cause of women and equality, recognising that gender equality is desirable for the country and for everyone in it. There have been great advances, but there is still more to do.

“It is important we also continue addressing other forms of equality, across race, religion, sexual orientation, disability and the other protected strands in the Equality Act 2010, which I helped to take through Parliament, as Solicitor General.

“I have been a long-standing equality campaigner, as a lawyer, an MP, a Government Minister and now as Police and Crime Commissioner, in particular tackling the significant interference with human rights caused by violence against women and girls, still rife in our society. Many others have worked equally hard and our greatest task ahead is fundamentally to change the culture so that no such violence is ever acceptable and those who perpetrate it are rejected.”

She added: “I feel truly proud to receive this honour, and see it as giving the cause of equality a boost. I would like to thank all the many people who have supported, helped and encouraged me over the years. We must continue to work together to achieve the equality we are fighting for.”