Covid heroes to police chief - local people in Queen's birthday honours

Steve Earl of Panel Graphic with PPE bound for India.

Steve Earl of Panel Graphic with PPE bound for India. - Credit: Panel Graphic

A family business owner who manufactured PPE, an asylum seeker support charity founder and a volunteer policeman who has dedicated over 22,000 hours of their time are among those in Norfolk and Waveney recognised in the Queen's birthday honours list.

Nationally, ex-Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Phillips and Great British Bake Off star Prue Leith have been made dames, while actor Jonathan Pryce has been given a knighthood in the list.

Ex-England football team manager Roy Hodgson and veteran broadcaster Sue Barker are both made CBE for their services to sport. While Lulu, Alison Moyet and veteran singer Engelbert Humperdinck have also been honoured. 

Steve Earl with Jomy Mathew Thomas who helped organise the freight to India

Steve Earl (front left) with Jomy Mathew Thomas (front right) who helped organise the freight to India - Credit: Panel Graphic

Locally, Steve Earl, 53, from Norwich, whose family-run plastic specialist firm designed and manufactured face shields to help with the national shortage of PPE, has been made an MBE. 

“It’s a big surprise. I thought it was a wind-up when I first got the email,” he said. “I’m really shocked because there have been so many more deserving cases because of Covid, NHS staff and everybody in the health service.”


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Loddon-based Panel Graphic, which normally makes plastic parts for the automobile sector, switched to supplying more than 300,000 face shields to frontline workers in hospitals, surgeries and special schools.

Mr Earl, who used his own funding to cover the £150,000 cost, said: “It was life-changing. It was nice to be able to do something at the time when a lot of people couldn’t do anything as most businesses were closed. We went into overdrive and had to change the whole factory.”

The firm has recently sent 14,000 face-shields to India to help the poorest communities hit the devastating Covid outbreaks.  

Special Chief Officer Darren Taylor, head of Norfolk's Special Constabulary.

Special Chief Officer Darren Taylor, head of Norfolk's Special Constabulary. - Credit: Darren Taylor

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Special Chief Officer Darren Taylor, 46, the head of Norfolk's Special Constabulary has been rewarded for more than 22 years of commitment by being made an MBE.

He joined the ranks of the specials aged 24 and still dons the uniform, while working full time for Archant, the publisher of this newspaper.

He said: “It’s an absolute honour, and very humbling to be recognised for something that I enjoy doing and get so much out of.”

Mr Taylor started his career in Norwich, serving as a special constable and a special sergeant before various postings across Broadland and South Norfolk.

“I’ve enjoyed every moment of it and can’t believe where the time has gone. There have been so many highlights which alongside operational policing included work within the community and police service supporting the LGBT+ community and inclusion across all areas of diversity and equality,” he said.

Kay Harvey at the opening of a new foodbank in Aylsham by Cromer and District Foodbank.

Kay Harvey (far left) at the opening of a new foodbank in Aylsham by Cromer and District Foodbank. - Credit: Archant

Kay Harvey, 58, has been made an MBE for services to the community having helped support around 90 asylum seekers placed at the former RAF base at Badersfield by the Home Office.

She set up a charity to deliver support to provide care packages with clothes and toiletries building on her previous experience with charity work with underprivileged families in Badersfield.

East Coast College principal Stuart Rimmer has been made an MBE for services to education and the community in Great Yarmouth during the pandemic.

East Coast College principal and chief executive Stuart Rimmer.

East Coast College principal and chief executive Stuart Rimmer. - Credit: East Coast College

Mr Rimmer, 46, said: “It is a very great honour to be recognised in this way. Leading a college is a privilege and is very much a team effort. I am fortunate to work with some amazing staff who positively impact our students every day.”

Visit East of England executive director Peter Waters

Visit East of England executive director Peter Waters. - Credit: Keiron Tovell

Others honoured include Visit East of England executive director Peter Waters, 53, who has been made an MBE for services to the tourism industry during the pandemic. 

Joanne Foulger has been given a British Empire Medal for services to the community in Keswick during Covid-19.

Prison officer Mick Best, at Wayland Prison at Griston.

Prison officer Mick Best, at Wayland Prison at Griston.  - Credit: Denise Bradley

Michael Best, who joined HMP Wayland, near Thetford, when he was just 24 and has spent three decades involved in the challenging but rewarding work of rehabilitating prisoners, has been made an MBE.

Thetford-based British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) has seen two honours with former chief executive Andy Clements and Dr Gavin Mark Siriwardena, its head of terrestrial ecology, both made an OBE.

Marie-Lyse Numuhoza, a Rwandan genocide survivor and refugee, has been made an MBE or services to human rights and the community in Thetford.

Marie-Lyse Numuhoza

Marie-Lyse Numuhoza has been made an MBE or services to human rights and the community in Thetford. - Credit: Denise Bradley

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