The Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that the 2003 Honours List, as always, reflected and paid tribute to outstanding achievements and service right across the community and the nation as a whole.
It might not be the 'glitziest' List we had had in recent years, but it was about rewarding those who worked and served at the sharp end - people who had really changed things, or who had given outstanding service to others in difficult situations. Not only were there a large number of people from the education profession, from the health service, criminal justice system, business and the arts, but there were also awards for school cleaners, a dinner lady, a milkman, a lock-keeper, a bus driver, a school-crossing warden and a wealth of other people who had all done very fine work at a local level.
There were 424 people in the List (42%) who had been nominated or supported by members of the public. This reflected the continuing value that the public placed on the honours system. And the list also reflects the government's commitment to honouring those in its key priority areas: education, health, law and order.
Education made up ten per cent of the List. There was a DBE for Rita Weller, Headteacher of Avonmore Primary School, Hammersmith and Fulham, who had promoted high standards and helped her pupils to raise their achievements despite the difficulties of being an inner city school in an area with high levels of deprivation. There were Knighthoods for John Jones, Head Teacher of Maghall High School in Sefton, Liverpool; Clive Booth, the Chairman of the Teacher Training Agency; and John Ward, Chairman of the Scottish Qualifications Agency.
Health and social services made up another ten per cent. A DBE had been awarded to Jennifer Wilson-Barnett, Professor of Nursing and Head of the Nightingale School of Nursing. There were Knighthoods for Ian Carruthers, Chief Executive of Dorset and Somerset Strategic Health Authority, the highest performing health authority in the country; David Hall, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and Professor of Community Paediatrics at Sheffield University; and Ravinder Maini, the Head of the Department for Rheumatic Diseases at the Kennedy Institute of Rheumotology.
CBEs had been awarded to two brothers, both renowned in the world of oncology: Raymond Powles, one of the international leaders in haemato-oncology, and his twin brother, Trevor Powles, whose particular contribution had been in the breast cancer field.
There was a DBE for Elizabeth Neville, Chief Constable of Wiltshire. There were Knighthoods for Howard Bernstein, Chief Executive of Manchester City Council; Ewen Cameron, the Chair of the Countryside agency; Dan Crompton, former Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire, Archy Kirkwood MP, long serving Member of Parliament and Select Committee Chairman for his services to Parliament; Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, Leader of Kent County Council.
Among the OBEs were Doreen and Neville Lawrence, the co-founders of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, who had done a huge amount for community relations.
Business, Science and Technology made up 18% of the awards. There was a CH for James Lovelock the distinguished scientist, inventor and author. There were DBEs for Pauline Green for her work with the Co-operative Movement; and Louise Johnson, Professor of Molecular Biophysics at the University of Oxford. There were Knighthoods for Peter Burt, Deputy Chairman of the Halifax Bank of Scotland; Bill Connor, General Secretary of the Union of Shop Distributive and Allied Workers; David Garrard, Chairman of Minerva plc and fundraiser for a variety of charitable causes; Alan Fersht, an outstanding scientist who almost single-handedly opened up the field of protein engineering; John Rose, Chief Executive of Rolls Royce. Among those awarded an OBE was Rick Stein, the restaurateur.
The Arts made up 7% of the List. There were Knighthoods for Alan Bates, Peter Moores, Ridley Scott and Peter Stothard. Sir Howard Hodgkin had been awarded a CH, as had Sir Dennis Mahon. There were CBEs for Peter Ackroyd; Jonathan Cope, principal dancer at the Royal Ballet; Brian Cox, award winning actor and director; Jane Glover, Britain's leading woman conductor; Bryn Trerfel Jones, the opera singer; Bill McLaren, the rugby commentator; Andreas Whittam Smith; and Richard Tait, the recently retired Editor in Chief of ITN. Those awarded OBEs included Brenda Blethyn; Jasper Carrott; Henry Blofield; and Edward Fox. Among the MBEs were Charles Peattie and Russell Taylor, the Alex cartoonists.
Awards for sport made up 3% of the total. There were CBEs for Charles Allen, Chairman of Manchester 2002 who was the driving force behind the successful Commonwealth Games and for Frances Done, Chief Executive of Manchester 2002. The Commonwealth Games had been an outstanding success and it was only right that the people who had helped make it happen were acknowledged in this way. Among those who had been awarded OBEs were Sam Torrance, captain of the successful European Ryder Cup team and Steve Backley, the athlete. Among the MBEs were George Duffield, the oldest jockey still riding in flat racing; Ashia Hanson, Commonwealth Games athlete and gold medallist; and Jonny Wilkinson, the England Rugby Union fly-half.
MBEs had also been awarded to Arthur Edwards, the press photographer, and the Rev, Tim Alban Jones, the Vicar of Soham who had done a huge amount following the appalling deaths of two little girls in the summer.
Asked to elaborate further on his comment that the 2003 Honours List was not the 'glitziest' and whether it was an admission that previous Lists had been too 'glitzy', the PMOS said that he was simply making an observation that most of those people on the List were those who worked at the sharp end. He was not saying that in the future there wouldn't be recipients who were perhaps better known. He told journalists not to get too carried away by over-interpretation.
Asked why no Working Peers had been included in the List, the PMOS pointed out that such Peerages were usually published separately. The last Working Peers List had been put out just before the General Election. No decision had been made at this stage as to when the next List might be released. As far as he was aware, nothing was imminent. Questioned as to whether a ban had been imposed on the creation of further Working Peers in light of the work going on to reform the House of Lords, the PMOS said no. He pointed out that it had been many years since Working Peers were included in the Honours List. This was because they were regarded as appointments rather than honours.
Source: Briefing from the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman on the New Year Honours List 2003.