New Year's Honours List 2020: 5 People Being Recognised For Smashing Stereotypes

“They just couldn’t understand why would a Black guy want to go down and buy a farm in Devon.”

1) The Black Farmer

Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones has been awarded an MBE for services to farming and has argued the agriculture industry “needs to be sexed up” in the way television chefs have changed catering.

Jones, 62, is to get the honour for services to farming after dreaming of owning a farm as a child.

When asked about his response to the honour, he told PA: “It was a massive surprise. I’m used to a lot of surprises in my life but this one really came out of the blue.

“I spent all my time scratching my head not even realising people had put me forward for the things I had been doing. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve just got on with what I’ve done.”

Emmanuel-Jones, who owns a plot of land in Devon, started his company The Black Farmer more than a decade and a half ago.

The businessman said he surprised those around him when he bought the small farm, which is now used to rear livestock for his range of meats and cheeses.

“When I bought the farm people thought I was nuts,” he said. “They just couldn’t understand why would a black guy want to go down and buy a farm in Devon.”

Emmanuel-Jones highlighted the strong divide between urban and rural Britons, which can be “like two separate countries”.

He said he hoped through his work raising awareness of farming and business, he could help bring the two sides of the country together and encourage urban-dwelling aspirational farmers to get involved.

“The idea that I can launch a brand called The Black Farmer and for it to stand out is a demonstration of the fact that it’s so unusual that it gets people to stand up and think,” he added.

“The idea there are black people in farming, for example, is such a rarity it makes people think – so that demonstrates the long way we have to go.”

The former television producer, who grew up in Birmingham after he and his family moved from Jamaica when he was three, said he hoped agriculture would get its own Gordon Ramsay in the future.

He said: “I believe that what the farming industry needs is more diversity, I don’t just mean diversity as in colour, it’s probably more important to have diversity from urban Britain because I’m of the belief that the farming industry needs to be sexed up like what happened to the catering industry.

“Before the celeb chef culture came about, going into the catering industry was seen to be the area for people who couldn’t do anything else.

“That culture has made cheffing a real, glamorous profession and I really want to see the same thing done for farming.”

Emmanuel-Jones added that owning the Devon farm can be tough, although he is not hands-on with the land at the moment.

Despite the challenges, he said buying the plot was hugely significant as a migrant.

“If you’re a foreigner and you grow up in an environment where you’re treated as a foreigner, a migrant, you only really feel you belong when you own land,” he said.

“No-one can say you don’t belong in the piece of England you’re living in.”

2) The female plumbing magnate

The founder of a network of female plumbers has been made an MBE for her pioneering work to get more women into trades.

In 1990, primary school teacher Hattie Hasan retrained as a plumber but had to work self-employed while she learned the trade as no one would take on a woman.

She went on to found the imaginatively named Stopcocks – a network of female plumbers who have been trained to provide excellent customer care.

Hasan, who grew up in London and now lives in Todmorden, West Yorkshire, wants more women to get in to plumbing.

She said customers appreciated plumbers who turned up when they said they would, took care over their work and then cleaned up after themselves.

She felt isolated running her business and reached out to other female plumbers who had the same experience as her, even if they had trained years after she did.

PA Media

The 58-year-old said: “They were telling me they were the only woman training to be a plumber in their college.

“They were saying they couldn’t get work.

“I started to talk to women about becoming self-employed and taking the same step as me.”

She set up the network as a franchise and has women joining from the South Coast, London, the North West and Yorkshire.

She goes into schools to talk to girls about learning a trade, and sells the idea of them becoming plumbers: “Working for yourself is flexible, you work your own hours, it’s a great career and it is a very good earner.”

She said she was delighted to be honoured with an MBE, saying: “I feel I am an ordinary person and if ordinary people can get recognised for the work they do, it is fantastic.

“I was chuffed to bits.”

She was made an MBE for services to women in the heating and plumbing industry.

3) The woman changing perceptions of HIV

Becky Mitchell, a fitness instructor and Environment Agency worker from Bristol, discovered she had been infected with HIV in her late 30s. She will now be made an MBE for helping raise awareness and break down stigma around the once devastating condition, which can now be controlled with medication.

Earlier this month she told Sky News about the moment she was diagnosed and the work she has done since to raise awareness of the disease.

One of the first things the doctor said to me was: “You’ll live a long life but it will be difficult sometimes.

“You just have to get used to a bit of uncertainty but life is like that anyway.”

I know Princess Diana was a big champion of the Terrence Higgins Trust and I’m really pleased [Prince] Harry is shining a light on it again by visiting its charity fair in Nottingham on World Aids Day.

I think it’s quite a forgotten topic. People are still subject to stigma.

Medication and treatment and science has moved on decades but people’s attitudes haven’t. I think he’s in a good position to help educate more and shine a light on a subject that is still a taboo for some.

4) The mental health first aider

Gordon Knight, planning and risks manager for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, has been awarded an MBE for public service – and to mental health awareness.

In a blog earlier this year, he wrote:

If a colleague hurts themselves physically in the office, what do you do? You’re probably thinking: ‘I’d call a First Aider.’ and you’d be right. If a colleague is experiencing emotional pain, perhaps they’re having a panic attack, or have received a telephone call to say a loved one has died, what do you do? You can call a Mental Health First Aider.

I want to promote the thought that asking for help is a sign of strength. If you realise you are suffering, it may take courage to admit there’s a problem and ask for help. Asking for help could be one the hardest things you do, but it really will be the best thing you ever do and I hope that MHFAiders will be there to help you take that first step towards getting the help you need.

5) The director of football

Susan Campbell, director of women’s football at the Football Association (FA), has been made a dame for services to sport.

Campbell took on the role in 2018 and took charge of the FA’s drive to increase girls and women’s grassroots football participation and generate further success among England’s elite women’s teams.

Britain's Prince Harry shakes hands with Susan Catherine Campbell in 2012.
Britain's Prince Harry shakes hands with Susan Catherine Campbell in 2012.
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