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Congratulations to Liberal Democrats on the Queen’s Birthday Honours List

June 14, 2015 12:58 PM
By Paul Walter in Liberal Democrat Voice
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

Arise, Sir Simon!

Simon Hughes MPSimon Hughes is one of a thousand people recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours list, receiving a knighthood. Many congratulations to Simon on an award which is very well deserved after a lifetime of skilful and devoted public service.

Simon first joined the Liberal Party in 1972, when he signed up to Cambridge University Liberal Club as a student. He was MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark (and its predecessors) from 1983, when he won it in a by-election, until 2015. He has been party President and was deputy leader from 2010 to 2014. He is a Christian and has been a candidate for the leadership of the party. Between 2013 and 2015 he was Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice. A human rights lawyer by profession, Simon is a Privy Counsellor.

It would need a book to properly do justice to Simon but let's just say that it would not be an exaggeration to say that Simon is held in great affection within the party.

Duwayne Brooks receives an OBE for public and political service. Duwayne was our very prominent and energetic candidate for Mayor of Lewisham in 2014. He has been a councillor in the London Borough of Lewisham, serving as the lead member for the Liberal Democrats on the Safer Communities Board at the Local Government group, where he has also been Community Cohesion and PREVENT Champion. He has run a charity supporting victims of crime. Duwayne is a great example of a Liberal Democrat rolling their sleeves up to make their community better.

Neil Sherlock is made a Commander of the British Empire for public and political service. Neil is a partner of PwC, the accountants, specialising in reputational strategy. He is a former special adviser to Nick Clegg who beat Boris Johnson in 1985 to become President of the Oxford University student union. He has twice been a PPC for the party and is married to Baroness Parminter.

James Gurling receives an OBE for political service. He describes himself as a "PR consultant by day - political activist by night". James was elected three times to Southwark Council. He was a press Aide to Paddy Ashdown on the '97 General Election tour and later Leadership Election Agent to Charles Kennedy. He is on the party's Federal Executive and Federal Conference Committee and chairs the Party's Campaigns & Communications Committee. In the latter role, James has taken feedback from members about our recent electoral performances. For many years, James has been seen on the party conference platform as an aide and chair. James has been seen in the news in last fortnight, as he is the brother of Sarah Gurling, Charles Kennedy's former wife, and was a close friend of Charles.

Peter Freitag becomes an MBE for services to the community in Darlington County Durham. Peter is a veteran party member who has held a number of senior roles in the North East regional party organisations and at local and national level. A retired estate agent, he has at various times been a councillor on Darlington Borough Council.

Tony French is awarded an MBE for services to the community in Chichester, West Sussex. Tony has continuously represented the Chichester East Ward on Chichester City Council since 1979. He was Mayor of the City Council in 1985/6 and 2011/12. He represented East Ward on the District Council from 1973-1976 and 1979-2015. He was Chairman of the District Council under the Liberal Democrat administration from 1995-99 when the Lib Dems won 25 of the 50 seats. Tony was founder Secretary and has held every officer position of the Chichester Racquets and Fitness Club, and is now its President. He has also helped many organisations, including the Chichester Festivities, Festival Theatre, New Park Centre and the Chichester Canal Trust. (Thanks to Andrew Smith for that write-up).

Issan Ghazni is awarded an MBE for public and political service in Nottinghamshire. Issan is chair of Nottinghamshire Liberal Democrats and has been chair of Ethnic Minority Liberal Democrats. He has been the party's National Diversity Adviser. He was one of our candidates for the European Parliament for the East Midlands in 2014 and PPC for the party in Nottinghamshire East in 2005. Issan is a remarkably energetic and passionate advocate for ethnic minorities in our party. He is a regular contributor to Liberal Democrat Voice.

Fran Oborski is made a Member of the British Empire for political and public service in Kidderminster and Wyre Forest. Fran was first elected to Wyre Forest District Council as a Liberal councillor in 1973 and has served continuously ever since. She was elected Mayor of Kidderminster 1984-85 and served as Chairman of Wyre Forest DC 2013-2014. Fran has been a Worcestershire County Councillor since 2001. Currently Fran is Chairman of Wyre Forest Local Children's Trust. She is a personal Trustee of Kidderminster and District Youth Trust And is a Board Member of Wyre Forest Community Housing. Fran recently rejoined the LibDems after a spell in the Liberal party. You can tell Fran is a hard-working LibDem councillor because she has her own Focus website which has an "action map" showing where on her patch she has made things happen!

Dr Janet Tait has been awarded the British Empire Medal For voluntary and charitable services to the community in Aldeburgh, Suffolk and through Save the Children. Janet is a retired GP, a stalwart of the Suffolk Coastal local party and led local opposition to the Iraq War. The Guardian obituary for Janet's late husband, Ian, relates that their "firm Quaker principles enabled" both of them "to stand unembarrassed in Aldeburgh high street lobbying against the proposed war in Iraq."

That's all the Liberal Democrats which we have so far spotted in the list, but please let us know if we have missed anyone out. Sometimes we don't spot the ones without "political" in their commendation.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist in Newbury and West Berkshire. He is part of the Liberal Democrat Voice team and blogs at Liberal Burblings.