A host of Lancashire’s leading lights have been recognised in the New Year’s Honour’s List.
Thirteen people - including Preston Paralympic champion Stephanie Slater, academics, community heroes and business heavyweights - have appeared alongside celebrities such as Ken Dodd and Andy Murray.
UCLan’s Professor of Stroke Care Caroline Watkins, the only stroke care professor in the UK, has been made a Dame for her services to stroke and nursing care.
She said: “When I got the letter I couldn’t believe it. I thought it couldn’t be real.”
She added: “I am so grateful to all the amazing people I have worked with in the past, and still do work with now, who work so hard to try to make a difference to other people’s lives.”
Tarleton Academy’s chair of governors, Helen Dicker, has been made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to education.
Mrs Dicker has held the role for four and a half years and was also the Chair of Governors at Tarleton Community Primary (TCP) for 16 years.
She said: “I am delighted to receive this award and, whilst it is in my name, I believe it recognises the outstanding efforts of all those who have contributed to maximising the opportunities for our local children.”
Sporting stars from the red rose region have also been recognised for their efforts.
Stephanie Slater from Longridge has been awarded the MBE for her services to swimming. The 25-year-old became Paralympic champion and silver medallist at the Rio Games after previously winning seven European gold medals at Eindhoven in 2014.
Thanking her family for their support, she said: “I was really shocked when I found out as its something you dream about but to actually see my name there I’m absolutely over the moon.
“These past couple of years have really not been easy for me health-wise and some would have quite easily given up, but I absolutely love my sport and all the hard work and tears has defiantly paid off.”
Scott Durant, 28 of Halton near Lancaster has got an MBE for services to rowing. In the summer the former Lancaster Royal Grammar School pupil was a gold medallist in the Men’s Eight at the Rio Olympic Games.
Ron Farrington, senior pastor at Longton Community Church, has been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to the community.
In 1995 he set up the church and attracted 30 members. Twenty-one years later more than 400 people regularly attend Sunday services. The church has also diversified to set up Serve Our Community, which helps people out of debt, and Inside Out which helps recycle furniture.
The 62-year-old said: “I’m blown away by the news, I can’t believe it’s happening. I have an amazing team of people who make it work.”
Elsewhere, Michael Bradley from Colne, director general of resources at the Ministry of Defence, has received an Order of the Bath for services to defence.
Stephen Hill from Lytham St Annes, chair of Action on Hearing Loss, has been given an OBE for services to People with Hearing Problems and charity.
Six others have been given an MBE. They are Wing Cdr David Forbes from Rossendale, regional chairman of the North Region Air Training Corps, for voluntary service to young people and ex-service charities.
Muriel Freestone, 90, has been recognised for services to the Scout Association and the community in Fleetwood, having taken on a number of roles.
She credits her 65-year involvement with the association with keeping her young at heart.
She said: “Tears rolled down my face when I read the letter. It’s been very difficult not to tell anybody the news.”
Javid Khan of Blackburn has received the award for services to the prevention of forced marriage and honour-based violence.
Ronald Philip McIvorn from Foulridge, chairman of Farmhouse Biscuits, has the MBE for services to the food industry and the economic regeneration of East Lancashire.
Detective Constable Mohammed Abid Saleh from Blackburn for services to Policing and the community in East Lancashire.
Eileona Mary Wilkinson from Blackburn is an independent monitoring board member of HM Prison Lancaster Farms. She has the MBE for services to prisons and HM Prison Services.