THE New Year’s Day Honours List has showered accolades on a number of Westminster figures noted for their contributions to the arts, medicine, charity and broadcasting.
Christopher Hilton has been awarded an MBE for services to the film industry. Mr Hilton served as general manager at the Odeon Cinema in Leicester Square, arguably the jewel in the crown of British cinema, for more than 10 years.
During his tenure, he oversaw numerous high-profile premieres, met the entire Royal Family and sat through more films than he cares to remember. Mr Hilton, 65, said: “I honestly had no idea and I am very proud. It says a lot about the Odeon Leicester Square. It’s nice to know they haven’t forgotten me [Mr Hilton retired last year], because I attended my first premiere as a guest on the other side of the red carpet.”
Others in the arts world have also been honoured, including the children’s author and illustrator Lauren Child, who was awarded an MBE for services to literature.
Ms Child lives in the West End and is most famous for her humorous illustrations that colour her books I Want a Pet! and Clarice Bean, That’s Me. Ms Child has won numerous writing awards and one of her books, Charlie and Lola, has recently been turned into a Disney-produced television series.
The founder of Covent Garden-based Pineapple dance studio, Debbie Moore, has been awarded an OBE.
Ms Moore started off her career as a model, before switching to business and building up the world-renowned studio that has churned out hundreds of stars since it was founded in a disused warehouse in 1979. She also has the honour of being the first chairwoman to float a company on the London Stock Exchange.
John Andrew Craig, who lives in St John’s Wood, has been awarded an OBE for his services to music and charity. As chairman of the British Record Industry Trust, he has overseen the BRIT school in Croydon, the only non-fee paying performing arts school in the UK as well as raising money for a host of charities that support young music talent.
Gardener Roger Phillips was awarded an MBE for the rather unusually titled “services to London Gardens Squares”. As the manager of the three-acre garden at his home of Eccleston Square in Pimlico, Mr Phillips has spent 30 years experimenting with different plants. Since 1987, the results have been open to the public for one day a year as part of a national charity project. The 77-year-old, author of 40 books on nature also successfully battled developers in a long fight to protect garden squares across the capital. He said the honour was amazing, adding: “You never think about a thing like that happening, you just get on with things and it never enters your mind. I live off writing books so it’s not going to change my life but it’s very nice.
“When I started, my knowledge of gardening was small. It was fun so I took it on and I learned on the job, planting things that I found interesting. It has become a personal project. But we do have a gardener. I don’t do all the work.”
Susan Saunders was awarded an MBE for her work as the co-ordinator of the Home Office’s Disability Support Network. Since 2003 she has worked there to improve the Home Office’s interaction both with disabled members of the public and its staff.
Ms Saunders said: “I feel very honoured and proud to be given this award. My work with disabled staff and their non-disabled colleagues is fulfilling and rewarding. I hope my efforts, together with those of my colleagues, have made a difference so that we all continue to see the potential of what a disabled person can offer rather than what they can’t.”
Elsewhere there was an MBE for Marylebone television doctor Miriam Stoppard, an OBE for St John’s Wood-based Peter Murray, who founded children’s charity the Ormiston Trust, and an OBE for dietician Wendy Martinson, who oversees the eating habits of the British Olympic squad.