A select number of people each year are recognised in the New Year Honours list for outstanding achievement and service to communities.
The 2019 honours list is filled with recipients from all walks of life, across sectors, with seven in 10 honourees having undertaken “outstanding work in their communities” in a paid or voluntary capacity.
Notable figures including England football manager Gareth Southgate and model Twiggy are being recognised, but there are hundreds of lesser-known people whose honourable work is being awarded.
Here are some of their stories.
My daughters one day will know why they do not have a father around and they will know what mum has done
Andrea Aviet BEM (British Empire Medal), campaigns tirelessly around domestic abuse and is being honoured for her services to victims and survivors.
She self-funded and self-published her book White Sorrow which she sells through Impact Family Services, a charity which supports all members of the family through divorce, relationship breakdown and and domestic violence.
“I work tirelessly to help abused women. People see abused women as being frail, frightened. You can’t do anything, you’re scared. I know how they feel, because I was abused. My ex-husband abused me. I have two beautiful children not by choice, but because my mother was catholic and abortion is not allowed where catholics are concerned.
“It’s not necessarily that you need to be married and have sex consensually. And I am sorry I will be so open about this topic but I think it needs to be heard. My husband would rape me. If you look at my girls, they don’t look anything like me – they’re blonde, with green eyes. Every day I get up and I look at them and I know what I’ve been through. I’ve been through starvation through pregnancy, I’ve had no clothes, I’ve had no food. I remember one day being threatened because I went to buy porridge because I couldn’t take it anymore, I was starving.
“My older daughter has a very weak immune system because of all of this. My strength comes from looking at my two girls. My strength comes from knowing what I have been through, and I do not want them to go through it. And I don’t want any other woman going through it. Whenever I talk to mothers, they say ‘thank you for what you are doing’. That means a lot to me. Whenever I go anywhere, I have a habit of hugging people, because I believe in spreading love.
“I’ve been through a lot. [One time after work] I saw my daughter and she told me ‘daddy didn’t give me food to eat’. I was working two jobs later on in the marriage, seven days a week. I would have everything cooked and ready, but I remember one day coming home and my daughter having burnt toast on the kitchen cabinet – it was black like coal. When I went to kiss her good night, she held onto my dress and said ‘mummy, I’m hungry’. I said ‘hungry?’. And when I came down I saw the toast again. And she said ‘daddy said that if I don’t eat that I will go to sleep hungry’.
“As a mother, I went into a fit of rage and he told me that if I don’t shut up, he will finish me. There’s a lot of times I nearly died throughout the marriage. I survived and I say I’ve got a second chance at life. That second chance would be a waste if I do not help other women.
“You can’t be angry when you go through something like this. I could have been angry, I could have been bitter, I could have been a lot of things, The reason I am so passionate about it is I have been through it. I know how you can overcome. I know how you can help others.
“I would not change anything I have been through in my life, because I would not be here. And I certainly would not be helping others. As a young girl I would pray ’Jesus, help me to become very rich, very rich, so that I can feed the poor and help others. I got my wish. I’m not a millionaire, I’m not very rich. But I am helping mums and women. My daughters one day will know why they do not have a father around and they will know what mum has done.
“Life is what you make it. Let go of the bitterness, let go of the anger, and just concentrate on love.”
It’s about using this, not going around saying ‘ooh, I’ve got an OBE’, because that doesn’t really do anything for me when I go to the cemetery and visit my son. But what it does do is it enables me to bring the vision forward and give other people hope
Mark Prince OBE, is founder of anti-knife charity Kiyan Prince Foundation, which is named after his son who he lost to knife crime in 2006.
Since then, Prince has delivered some 200 talks to schools, as well as mentoring young people.
In 2015, he set up the I Have A Dream programme, pairing weekly boxing sessions with topics including knife crime and drug and substance abuse for high-risk young people aged 16 to 25.
He is being honoured for services to tackling knife and gang crime in London.
“What this means to me, when I first opened the letter, tears started welling up. The journey’s being a very emotional journey, I’ve been committed to impacting young people’s lives and showing them a better way away from this mindset of knives and gangs and guns, and inspiring them to use their potential.
“Recently I had an idea that I wanted to get out and impact more young people in London and to get out to them and I thought ‘I really need a press conference so I can get some support from the press’. So I brought the team together to think ‘how should we make this happen?’. There’s something to be said for being committed and working hard and believing in what your vision is and when I opened the letter, I said, ’wow, here I have the platform to be able to let everybody know, to reach out, to not just the few schools, but to have a powerful message that reaches out to all the schools across London and to get the backing of the community and the support of corporates and others who can help us.
“The money we’re saving the community, the money we’re saving the government to be able to save young lives – a murder case would cost £1 million. We’re touching lives and changing lives in the moment of an hour and doing that across 39 weeks for 58,000 young people, which will cost £150,000. We’re saving lives and [saving] parents feeling like me. I think that’s not only value for money, but it’s value for what we’re bringing back to our community, for my son, who lost his life. This is what I can give back on behalf of my son who is in a cemetery and I have to visit him and I can impact other young people’s lives and impact families as well.
“This is why this means so much to me, because it’s about using this, not going around saying ‘ooh, I’ve got an OBE’, because that doesn’t really do anything for me when I go to the cemetery and visit my son. But what it does do is it enables me to bring the vision forward and give other people hope, young people that are homeless like I was at 15, that are into that criminal life like I was in my teens, and want to turn their life around. I did that to become number one in Britain as a boxer. So I use that now to help change their lives, and now to get an OBE shows them that people like us from our community can do great things and can be recognised for the great things they do for others.”
I should be dead right now. Or I should be in prison. But it’s because of God’s goodness that I’m here today
Stephen Addison BEM is being recognised for services to young people in Barking and Dagenham and is the founder of Box Up Crime, which he established after he lost a close friend to gang violence.
His organisation works with 600 young people each week, teaching non-contact boxing in schools, pupil referral units and community centres across the capital.
“This award isn’t about me, it’s got nothing to do with me, it’s about my community, it’s about the young people I represent.
“I’ve lost seven kids in the space of a year that have been murdered. We’ve seen 131 murders in London and the reality of the situation is these young people, where we work, where we’re from - they don’t have access to hope. They don’t get to see any success. They don’t get to see awards and go to press conferences. So when I’m here winning this award, for me, it’s like I’m doing it for the kids. I’m trying to show the kids that ‘you can do this’. Because I’ve come from that background, I’ve been involved in drug deals, I’ve been involved in gangs, I’ve been involved in all of that mess that we see on TV. It’s only by the grace of god that my life got turned around.
“I should be dead right now. I should be in prison. But it’s because of god’s goodness that I’m here today.
“I’m really humbled that I’m able to take this back, and show the kids that ’you’ve got this, you can do the same thing, you can bring your parents to award ceremonies, you can create a legit income for yourselves and your families. My vision is to see young people all over London have opportunities and win awards like this, to forget about their past, forget about the murders that they’ve had to witness, and bring hope back to their communities. I’m in it to see young people have the same reality and I’m so thankful for Mark Prince as well, I want to take the time to acknowledge him.
“When I was doing my journey of transformation and I was 22 years old, he used to take me down to the gym and give me the most gruelling boxing session. At the time I used to hate him for it. Just to see him here today to collect his award, he’s been through so much, he’s a tremendous man, and what he’s adding to the community, he’s adding value.”