Queen’s Birthday Honours list – most diverse yet!

The Queen’s Birthday Honours list has been released, recognising more than 1,000 people for commitment to public service.

The list has been described by the honours committee as the most diverse yet, with half of this year’s honourees being women, while 10 per cent are from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.

There is a total of 1,109 people on the Queen’s Birthday Honours list, of whom 438 are awarded an MBE, 221 an OBE and 303 a BEM. Some might argue 10 per cent is still some way to go before we get a true representative of all our diverse communities, nevertheless, it’s good to see an increase, however small.

The honourees this year include Police Constable Keith Palmer, who was stabbed to death by attacker Khalid Masood in March on the forecourt of the Palace of Westminster. He has been awarded the George Medal for confronting an armed terrorist to protect others and Parliament. Also receiving the George medal is the heroic passer-by, Bernard Kenny, who was stabbed in the abdomen as he tried to stop neo-Nazi Thomas Mair attacking MP Jo Cox outside her constituency surgery in Yorkshire.

Among the British Asians receiving a Knighthood are Professor Mir Saeed ZAHEDI, Technical Director at Blatchford & Sons for services to Engineering and Innovation. Joining him is Professor Alimuddin Zumla, Professor of Infectious Diseases and International Health at the University College London for services to Public Health and Protection from Infectious Disease.

Responding to the news of the Knighthood, Professor Alimuddin said: “I am absolutely delighted to be accorded this wonderful honour. It’s awe inspiring and a great privilege to be together with exceptional people who have distinguished themselves, serving humanity in different ways with great commitment and impact.

“I would like to share this honour with the numerous selfless and committed people across the world, who I work with effectively on a range of academic capacity development, advocacy and charity activities on poverty-related diseases. I am blessed with a very supportive family excellent research teams and awesome talented friends who have shown ‘unity of purpose’ for improving the lives and health of disadvantaged populations worldwide.”

Britain’s Asian Women were also represented well, with nineteen of them on the honours list this year, which included Parveen June Kumar who has been conferred the prestigious Dames Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for services to medicine and medical education.

The 74-year-old Professor of Medicine and Education at Bart’s and the London School of Medicine and Queen Mary, University of London, is also the co-editor and author of a revolutionary 1989 textbook, ‘Kumar and Clark’s Clinical Medicine’, which is credited with improvements in the education of medical students, doctors and nurses in training both at home and abroad.

Another notable recipient is diversity champion, Dr Kamel Hothi, who received an OBE for her services in the banking sector.

Dr Hothi is Head of Responsible Business Special Projects at the Lloyds Banking Group. She migrated to Slough at the age of six from India with her family. Upon leaving school she found a job as a cashier at TSB (prior to the merger with Lloyds Bank) in Slough High St. She progressed up the career ladder becoming an assistant manager at Maidenhead and then went on to be their first Asian Bank Manager at Walton on Thames.

After managing several other branches, she became the Area Manager for Thames Valley covering 160 branches until the merger of TSB and Lloyds Bank when she was asked to support the merger and transferred to their head office in London. It was following the lack of diversity she witnessed in the City that influenced Kamel to speak up and take action. She was soon challenging views resulting in being invited to chair several committees and mentor individuals.

Kamel continued to work hard and break glass ceilings and now with 38 years’ banking experience she is recognised for being the architect behind the Asian Strategy across Lloyds Banking Group. Her remits have included product development, cultural training, strategy and marketing, resulting in some very high-profile sponsorships of over 30 national Asian events including sponsoring The Asian Jewel Awards and The Asian Women of Achievement Awards for seven years. It is through the sponsorship of such events that Kamel helped improve access to finance for Ethnic communities and creating platforms to acknowledge their invaluable contribution to UK society and the economy.

In speaking about the recognition, Kamel Hothi says, “I am truly humbled to be honoured in such a profound way but feel this recognition is for my parents who survived the partition of India and Pakistan – the biggest migration of refugees and brought us here to the UK to build a better life. My father was a civil engineer in India but unfortunately in the 60’s his skills were not acknowledged.  He did struggle with this biasness and refused for me to go onto further education believing there was no point and arranged my marriage at 19. It was these experiences that have driven me to improve and create a level playing field for all concerned.  I just wished my parents were alive today to witness me receiving my OBE from the Queen so to prove that hard work is recognised regardless of your background.”

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