As the New Year came in, so did the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list – and what fantastic recognition Herefordshire has had!
The wheels of human society have always been turned by the kindness and goodwill of others. George Eliot put it perfectly, describing her heroine Dorothea Brooke in the closing lines of Middlemarch:
"But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive: for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs."
The everyday generosity of others sustains the friendships and communities that take us through life. It defines us, both as individuals and as a society.
The honours system is one way in which we can celebrate the dedication of people around us that too often goes unnoticed. There have been honours and orders of chivalry in Britain since time out of mind, as they used to say, but the system has evolved and expanded over time.
It is not perfect; many great people and much great work still go unacknowledged, alas. But still, it is a powerful force for good, which rightly goes above and beyond party politics.
So it is great to be able to congratulate my neighbour, Sir Bill Wiggin, and our former MEP, Anthea McIntyre CBE, who have both been recognised for their decades of public service. Anthea was the county councillor for Ross in her twenties, which testifies to her astonishing dedication.
Paralympian and javelin thrower Dan Pembroke MBE was recognised for his incredible achievement in winning Gold at the Tokyo games last year.
I was delighted to see that Sally Robertson was awarded a BEM, for many years of service as a ward and parish councillor and her dedication to her local community, where she continues to lead on important projects.
And I warmly congratulate Jane Roberts, former Mayor of Ross, on her BEM, which recognised her services as volunteer and Chair of the Ross-on-Wye Community Development Trust, which has done a huge amount to tackle loneliness through a network of neighbourhood buddies.
All these people have done brilliantly. But there are many more to whom we should also raise a glass in thanks for their dedication and service. Thank you all.
First published in the Ross Gazette, 12 Jan 2022