10:39AM, Thursday 03 January 2013
The 2013 New Year Honours list included a host of community stalwarts as well as high-achieving Olympians and Paralympians from across the area.
We spoke to them about being included on the Queen's list.
A request from a little boy could have been responsible for a popular teacher being made an MBE (Member of the British Empire) in the Queen's New Year Honours list.
Alison Borgese, 59, of Severn Crescent, Colnbrook, has taught at All Saints Junior School, Maidenhead, for nine years - four of them as joint assistant headteacher.
She joined to teach maths and PCHE (personal, social and health education), having spent nine years before that teaching at Wexham Court Primary School in Slough.
She credits the then headteacher at Wexham Court, Angela Herman, with teaching her an important lesson.
The mum-of-three said: "She taught me never to be derailed by documentation. It is easy to get lost with all these targets.
"Of course you have to keep that in mind but you also have to make sure the children are learning what they need to know - that means making classes lively and fun."
Mrs Borgese doubts if she will ever find out who put her name forward for an honour but she has a clue.
She said: "I know one little boy went home and told his mum 'my teacher deserves a reward'. I'm touched that this might have started with a child I teach, after all the children know better than anyone what goes on in the classroom."
Mrs Borgese began her teaching career in an inner London school and taught English in Italy for a while. She also taught briefly in Colnbrook and married in the village church.
Paralympians Naomi Riches and David Smith both received MBEs for services to rowing.
He wrote on his Twitter page: "Massive honour to be named on the New Year honours."
Kayaker Ed McKeever was among the Olympians to receive an honour.
The 29-year-old, who lives in Wooburn Green, won gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games after competing in the K1 200m final.
He received his MBE for services to kayaking.
Writing on his Twitter page, Ed said: "Very proud to have been appointed an MBE on the New Years honours list. Great end to an unbelievable year."
Captain Guy Lock of the Coldstream Guards and Major Fabian Roberts of the Irish Guards were both made MBEs.
Both regiments have been a familiar part of life in Windsor having been regularly stationed at Victoria Barracks over the years.
Paralympic star Sophie Christiansen received an OBE (Order of the British Empire) for services to equestrianism.
The 25-year-old, of Boyn Hill Road, Maidenhead, won three equestrian gold medals at the London 2012 Games with her horse Janeiro.
The former Charters School pupil in Sunningdale also has a golden post box in Maidenhead High Street to recognise her achievement.
Sophie, who has cerebral palsy, wrote on her Twitter page: "2012: The best year of my life.
"I have learnt so much to help me fulfil my dreams, met some truly amazing people."
Stephen Searle was awarded the RVM (Royal Victorian Medal) after 33 years as forestry manager on the Crown Estate.
Mr Searle, 56, retired in October but plans to carry on living in Windsor Great Park. He is married with a grown-up son in Australia.
Mr Searle said: "My father was a manager with the Forestry Commission so I grew up in that world.
"I was working for the Post Office and pushing a chainsaw around helping my father for fun, until he told me I should be doing that for a living if I liked it that much."
After studying at the University of Cumbria, Mr Searle got the job on the Crown Estate, managing the woodland under the supervision of the chief forester.
He has seen a lot of changes - a permanent team of 52 men and the two sawmills are gone, a smaller team of 13 has been retained with most of the work now put out to contract.
He said: "There is much more legislation now. We have to take wildlife into account, which is a good thing, and two men now have to do a job that would once have been done by one.
"But some things never change, the weather can cause real problems when it comes to moving timber."
Thomas Lee, the former head warden at the Crown Estate, also received the RVM.
Others who contribute to life on the inside at Windsor Castle also received the honour. They are: St George's Chapel lay clerk John Heighway, palace attendant Anthony Charles Martin, general assistant at the California Store Arthur Pottinger, and royal household switchboard operator Michelle Redpath.
Tony Pidgley, 65, was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for services to housing.
It is an extraordinary climax to a life that began with him earning a living by cutting down trees and selling the logs. He founded a haulage business, expanding it until it had 40 lorries and selling it to Crest Homes when he was only 21.
He went on to establish Berkeley Homes in 1975, expanding it into one of the United Kingdom's largest housebuilders, Berkeley Group plc.
In the last five years the business has created 6,500 new jobs and was voted 'Britain's most admired company' in 2011, having played a key role in providing much-needed student and affordable housing.
He lives in a 16th century house in Windsor with his wife Sarah.
Olympic gold medallist Katherine Grainger was awarded a CBE for services to rowing.
The 37-year-old, who lives in Maidenhead and trains at Marlow Rowing Club, has already been bestowed with an MBE.
She said her latest honour was a fantastic conclusion to an incredible year.
"It was a year that far exceeded all of my hopes and dreams and to be recognised in this way has made the year even more special," she added.
Dedicated fundraiser Diana Spokes received a British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to maritime safety.
Since 1977 the 83-year-old has been helping to raise funds for the RNLI by standing outside supermarkets across the area collecting donations.
As chairman of the Bourne End RNLI fundraising branch, Diana and her army of volunteers have helped to collect more than £20,000 in 2012.
The money is used to fund life-saving equipment and training for lifeboat crews.
Diana, of Chapman Lane, said she was 'delighted' to have been recognised.
"It was a great surprise when I had the letter from the Cabinet Office," she added.
The member of the Little Marlow and Wellend Women's Institute was nominated for the honour by her daughter Rose and praised the volunteers of her fundraising team.
A generous businessman who has spent his life helping others was awarded a BEM for services to charity and to the community in Southall, London.
For more than 20 years Jit Pal, from Slough, has run a clothing business in Southall Broadway.
During this time the 57-year-old has supported charities including Cancer Research UK and donated clothing to the homeless.
The Hurworth Avenue homeowner said: "It was a very big surprise. I am very pleased."
His daughter, Reena Gupta, was happy to see her dad being honoured.
"He was very shocked and surprised," she said.
"It is nice to be recognised, he has been doing this for a very long time."
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