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Key figures react to receiving New Year's Honours

Charity campaigners, community figures and famous faces were recognised in the New Year's Honours, announced at the end of December. We spoke to some of the recipients from our area about the work that they do and what it means to be recognised.

Barry Middleton: MBE

The most capped player in the history of Great Britain and England Hockey has been honoured with an MBE for services to the sport.

Barry Middleton, 35, who lives in Marlow, has amassed 432 caps and 119 goals over his hockey

career, making him one of the greatest athletes from any sport in the nation’s history.

He captained England for nearly a decade, leading his team to EuroHockey gold in 2009 and captaining Great Britain at two Olympics, including London 2012, when they finished fourth.

Barry, who started playing hockey at about the age of six, said finding out about the MBE was ‘one of those proud moments’.

He said: “It is very nice, one of those proud moments when you find out, knowing that everything you’ve worked for through your career has been honoured and rewarded.

“But obviously you don’t play for honours and awards individually, it’s a team game and anything that comes from that individually is part of what the team has done as well.”


Nicki Connell: MBE

Photo by Kyle Degraw

A humanitarian worker has been awarded an MBE.

Nicki Connell, 36, the nutrition technical director at the philanthropist organisation Eleanor Crook Foundation, was awarded the honour for her ‘services to emergency nutrition crises abroad’.

Starting her humanit-arian career at the age of 26, Nicki went to Bangladesh, helping to establish various nutrition programmes for refugees.

She has since worked in other countries including Pakistan, war-torn South Sudan and Yemen where, in 2017, she spent time training local government officials on infant nutrition.

With her team she has supported up to 2,000 refugees a day.

She was also driving force behind raising £20,000 for one of her colleagues to study health promotion in the UK.

Nicki said: “I’m really delighted to have received the MBE and am naturally looking forward to sharing the award with my family and friends.

“But I remain dedicated to my work in improving the nutritional status of vulnerable people around the world and there is still so much to do.

“This award is also for all my colleagues, past and present that every single day continue to do an amazing job in some of the most difficult and dangerous places in the world.

"It’s also for my parents that have never stopped me and have always supported me in everything I do.”


Judith Diment: MBE

A former Royal Borough councillor  has said she is ‘amazed and greatly honoured’ to be made an MBE for services to charity.

Judith Diment moved to Maidenhead in the early Eighties and retired in 2014, after which she has focused solely on charity and voluntary work.

She has been involved with Rotary since 2004, when she joined the Windsor St George group, before switching to Maidenhead Thames in 2016.

She has helped out at events such as the Cookham Festival and has been involved with the Stanley Spencer Gallery in the village.

Her charitable work has seen her fight polio with Rotary, working with heads of state and governments to help almost eradicate the infectious disease.

She said: “It is a real privilege to receive an award from the Queen.

“I was delighted that it was for services to charity, because I am a believer of giving back to your community, helping others and making a difference.

“I have always tried to do that, both locally and internationally.

“I am very proud of Rotary and the work we do.”


John Chapman: MBE

A key figure in Marlow who has ‘never said no to anybody’ has been awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours.

John Chapman was given the accolade for services to community in the town, where he serves as president of the Royal British Legion.

He has also been with Marlow Age Concern for more than 20 years, and been involved as a governor at Great Marlow School and with the Chamber of Trade.

John is also president of the management committee of Marlow Regatta.

He said: “I went down to the British Legion and people just shook my hand and said well done.

“They said they were pleased that it was me and not a star or a politician.”

He added: “My dad said, you are bright, you have a big personality and your role in life must be to stand up for those people that have not got the ability to stand up for themselves.

“And I guess that is what I have done.”

“A lady friend [of my late wife’s] said ‘the day you say no, I am putting you forward for a knighthood. I have never heard you say no to anybody’.”


Steve Backshall: MBE

A wildlife enthusiast famous for appearing on our TV screens with deadly animals has been awarded an MBE.

Steve Backshall, who received the award for services to charity and wildlife conservation, said it is a ‘massive privilege’.

As well as presenting educational wildlife programmes for television, such as Deadly 60, he has also been president of the conservation charity Berks, Bucks and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust for the last decade.

Steve is also involved with similar organisations including Buglife, Manta Ray Trust, Shark Trust and Bite-Back.

Steve said: “I grew up in a town not so far away [from here] and I do not come from a particularly privileged stock, so it was not something that ever crossed my mind would happen.

“It is a massive privilege.”

He added: “Getting young people enthused about nature and wildlife is really important to me. It is a passion that I cherish.”


Dr Sheena Dykes: BEM

The founder of a homeless charity has thanked its volunteers and staff after she was awarded a British Empire Medal.

In 2006, Dr Sheena Dykes and two friends discovered the body of a woman who had been sleeping rough in Wycombe.

As a response to this, she got a group of volunteers together and set up what would become the Wycombe Homeless Connection, supporting rough sleepers in the High Wycombe area.

The charity worked to persuade churches to open winter night shelters, creating a safe place for home-less people to sleep.

As the chair of trustees, Dr Dykes has overseen the charity as it has grown; it now focuses on tackling the causes of homeless-ness as well as helping rough sleepers to find shelter.

She said: “This has only been possible through the remarkable teamwork of our volunteers and support from the whole community.”

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