Women lead the way for St Albans district in the New Year’s Honours list

WOMEN dominated the list of people from St Albans and Harpenden recognised in The Queen’s New Year’s Honours list.

Eight individuals from the area were named in the list published on December 31 and seven of them were women. Lisa Buckingham (OBE), Evelyn Arnold (CBE), Helen Gill Thwaites (MBE), Dorothy Mills (MBE), Heather Allen (MBE), Jayne Richards (MBE), Mary Hughes (MBE) and Steve Wyler (OBE) celebrated the New Year by revealing their accolades to their nearest and dearest, after being sworn to secrecy when they received the news several weeks earlier.

The most high-profile is Bricket Wood-born Lisa Buckingham who is now the editor of the Financial Mail on Sunday. Lisa, who returned to live in St Albans over 10 years ago, is made an OBE for her services to journalism and her commitment to improving women’s opportunities.

A former pupil of St Albans Girls Grammar School, Lisa has worked tirelessly to promote women in business, establishing the Financial Mail Women’s Forum, and setting up the Breaking the Mould conferences, which seek to encourage young girls to broaden their career horizons.

Lisa said her motivation was always that she wanted to encourage more women into the boardrooms and give them the confidence to aim high.

Despite joining the Mail 10 years ago, Lisa said she was still energised by the work she does: “It’s an amazing privilege to have this role and I meet and talk to so many interesting people.”

Another former pupil of St Albans Girls Grammar School, Evelyn Arnold, is to receive a CBE for her work at the Department for Work and Pensions. The deputy director of the state pensions policy, who now lives in Wheathampstead, said she was surprised but absolutely delighted to be honoured for her 31 years of work for the DWP.

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Harpenden resident, Heather Allen, said she was also surprised to hear she had received an MBE for services to volunteering. Heather, who has led the Volunteer Centre Dacorum in Hemel Hempstead for over 15 years, is credited by her colleagues for putting volunteering on the map in the area. Volunteer numbers in Dacorum have risen from 459 in 1994/95 to 1,350 in 2009/10. Heather’s colleagues say her commitment and energy make the recognition she has received, particularly deserved.

Former Mayor of Harpenden Dorothy Mills is also made an MBE having dedicated many years to serving the local community. As well as serving as the town’s first ever Mayor, Dorothy has worked tirelessly within the local community for many years and served as a school governor at High Beeches JMI for over 25 years. She said the news had delighted her and her family.

Helen Gill Thwaites of Upton Avenue in St Albans is made an MBE for her ground-breaking work with people affected by brain injuries. Helen, an occupational therapist, works with the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability as their consultant on low-awareness states. Together with her colleague Ros Mundy, Helen has developed an assessment tool called SMART, that in 2003 was recommended by the Royal College of Physicians guidelines as the tool of choice when expert physicians are in doubt when identifying awareness in individuals being considered for withdrawal of nutrition and hydration.

Both Ros and Helen have received the MBE and they hope that this will bring wider recognition to the RHN, which is a charity hospital, and to SMART, which has already saved and improved many lives.

DC Jayne Richards, who has played a vital role in the wake of local, national and international incidents, has received an MBE for her outstanding professionalism and service to the community.

Jayne, who lives in St Albans, is based within the Beds and Herts Major Crime Unit and is the family liaison advisor. Her work has involved helping families in the aftermath of the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, co-ordinating family liaison officers out of London in the wake of the 7/7 terror attacks and she was also part of the first team of officers deployed to support families following the Potters Bar train crash.

Former Civil Servant Mary Hughes of Radlett is awarded an MBE for over 40 years of work in government departments. The former executive officer of the communities group at the Department for Communities and Local Government is now enjoying her retirement and said she had no idea she would be nominated for the honour.

She said that as a civil servant she was aware of how complex the nomination process was and to be both selected and chosen was a real privilege.

Steve Wyler, director of the Development Trusts Association ((DTA), receives an OBE for his work in the voluntary sector. The DTA is a network of community practitioners which brings together over 450 community-led organisations. A member of various government advisory groups on social enterprise, Steve has worked for voluntary and community agencies over the last 20 years.

He said: “My work at the Development Trusts Association brings me into contact with inspirational people across the country who are taking land and buildings into community ownership and building up social enterprises to make their communities better. These are the true pioneers of the Big Society and I am very proud to receive this honour on their behalf.”

n A former teacher from St Albans who was named in The Queen’s Birthday Honours list in June received her OBE from Prince Charles on December 17 at Buckingham Palace.

Vivien Bailey, of Etna Road, received the honour for her work as an HMI with OFSTED, where she specialised in the inspection of further education colleges and vocational training until her retirement in 2009.

Much of Vivien’s work was focused on promoting equality and diversity and during her career she introduced a successful scheme for supporting black and minority ethnic college staff who wished to break through the glass ceiling and develop their careers to become inspectors.