A Sheffield couple who have dedicated decades to fostering more than 80 children today receive the MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list.
Christine and Harry Burditt thought their award was a prank - but are now in shock after realising it is real.
The couple, both 71, are recognised for services to children and families.
Christine, of Wincobank, said: “We can’t believe it! When I picked our letters off the mat with the gas bill I thought someone was pulling my leg.”
Christine began fostering when her first marriage broke down and she was left bringing up children Robert, Teresa, Karen and Stephen while holding down a night job as an auxiliary nurse at the Northern General Hospital.
“I thought another little mouth to feed wouldn’t make much difference!” she said. “I sat the children down and asked if they wouldn’t mind sharing their home with another one. We’ve always done it as a team.”
Christine continued to foster after giving up work to care for her mum, and after she married steelworker Harry 20 years ago.
The grandparents of five, and great-grandparents of 10, currently have one boy in their care, and would like to continue - but admit they’re not getting younger.
“I am not good with computers,” said Christine. “I would sooner sit down and play cards or board games with them or go on a long walk. But you have to look at it from the child’s point of view. Harry and I are both 72 this year.”
Coun Jackie Drayton, Sheffield Council cabinet member for children, said: “Chris and Harry are a true inspiration and fantastic ambassadors for fostering.”
The Lord Lieutenant of South Yorkshire, David Moody, becomes a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order - awarded by the Queen to people who have served the monarch in a personal way.
Lord Lieutenants are responsible for organising royal visits to their county, and Mr Moody has held the post for South Yorkshire since 2004.
Mr Moody, 74, said he was informed about a fortnight ago - and was ‘delighted somebody who has had the time of his life doing this job should be recognised for it’.
He has many fond memories, especially accompanying the Queen during her visit to Sheffield in 2010. He said he was particularly proud to have taken part in more than 100 citizenship ceremonies for new British citizens - and delighted by the MBEs for foster carers Christine and Harry Burditt.
“It is wonderful they are being recognised,” he said.
Pupils have a passion for music at Silkstone Common Primary in Barnsley - thanks to teacher Kathryn Smith who has been instrumental in putting the subject at the very heart of their education.
In her 10 years at the school the 48-year-old has taught hundreds of youngsters to play, while creating an award-winning orchestra and ensemble.
Now Kathryn’s hard work, much of it carried out free and in her own time, has led to the MBE for services to education.
“I’m determined every child should be given the chance to experience music,” she said.
She is currently teaching violin to 26 children before school, at playtimes and during lunch breaks. “Three quarters of the older children are playing an instrument, which is wonderful,” she said. “If you gain a love of music it will live with you forever.”
Scientist Lynne Smith, clinical manager at the gastro-intestinal investigation unit at the Northern General, also gets the MBE.
Lynne has worked for Sheffield Teaching Hospitals since 1974, building the unit into one of the foremost in Britain, investigating diseases and disorders including reflux and cancer.
Lynne said she was ‘deeply honoured and touched’ to receive the MBE.
“I am lucky to work with the best team you could wish for,” she said. “Everyone puts in so much effort. I am so proud to have been put forward.”
Veteran Sheffield councillor Alf Meade receives the MBE for services to the community - but says he still wants to do more.
The 77-year-old, a councillor since 1972, was instrumental in setting up Sheffield’s district heating network. But he said more work is needed to extend the project and reduce costs and emissions.
The West Ecclesfield councillor, who lives in Hillsborough, and who also set up Deepcar Brass Band for young people, teaching many himself, said: “I don’t think I deserve this award quite honestly.”
New Sheffield councillor Paul Wood is thrilled to be awarded a British Empire Medal - just weeks after being elected for Richmond.
The 57-year-old, of Handsworth, was nominated for his work as former chairman of the Sheffield Labour Party, working to get more minority ethnic people involved. He is also a board member of the regional Labour Party.
Paul said: “I never expected anything like this. The worst thing has been not being able to tell anyone!”
Sheffield University academic Professor Alan Walker gets the OBE for services to social science. He joined the Sociological Studies department in 1977 and is an expert on the consequences of an ageing population. He has written more than 30 books, and published over 200 reports and 300 papers, his work being translated into 20-plus languages. He is currently director of a £22m programme researching the dynamics of ageing.
Singing policeman Paul Newman is a community support supervisor and receives the MBE for services to policing and the community.
The 54-year-old - who in his spare time performs gigs of Frank Sinatra and Michael Buble numbers - has worked for the force for 31 years, and said he was ‘grinning like a Cheshire cat’ to receive his letter.
“I was reading it over and again for 15 minutes - I thought it was a joke,” he said.
Paul is attached to Kimberworth Safer Neighbourhood Team in Rotherham but lives in Wincobank, Sheffield.
The former Navy man became a PCSO supervisor seven years ago, working with young people, qualifying as a youth worker, setting up gym sessions for young men on the fringes of crime, and running football coaching.
Amanda Dickens, a South Yorkshire Police constable, gets the MBE for services to policing and the community in Rotherham. It’s the second top honour this year for PC Dickens who lives in Doncaster - in February she received the Brian Moseley Award for her contribution as a uniformed officer with Wharncliffe SNT in Rotherham.
Malcolm Morley becomes an OBE... for services to wrestling. The 74-year-old is the former chair of the British Wrestling Association, praised for his role modernising the sport in the UK.
Malcolm, whose son is South Yorkshire Police Superintendent Shaun Morley, also a wrestler, began his career as a coach in North Derbyshire. He later became GB team manager and England team manager. He is currently acting performance director.
Colin Nicolson, chief executive of the BWA, said Malcolm, from Brimington, ‘thoroughly deserved’ the honour. “He has a vision for the future,” he said.
Maureen Neill becomes an MBE for services to the community. Ms Neill, a magistrate and director of Meadowhead Community Learning Trust, lives in Fulwood, Sheffield.
Michael Firth, from Rotherham, receives the OBE for services to education and scouting in South Yorkshire.
Starting as an assistant venture scout leader in 1981, today Michael is assistant international county commissioner - a role that requires him to organise South Yorkshire scout groups’ trips overseas. A spokesman for South Yorkshire Scouts said: “Michael is a very worthy recipient. He has been involved with the scouts right from group level, working with the children.”
Brian Wood, 76, of Warmsworth, Doncaster, receives the British Empire Medal for voluntary service to the Air Training Corps.
“I am flabbergasted - it is a bolt out of the blue,” he said. “I feel humbled and honoured.”
Brian joined 1053 Armthorpe Squadron as a cadet in 1951. He went on to become Adult Warrant Officer, Squadron Commander, Wing Sports Officer and later a Civilian Instructor. He is still heavily involved in the selection, training and supervision of the Wing football teams, and managing a squadron shooting team to national standard.
Services to heritage see Christopher Pennell awarded the MBE.
Christopher, from Dore, Sheffield, spent 27 years in the coal industry before switching to a career in environment and heritage, and for a decade was the National Trust’s regional director in the East Midlands. Vanessa Harbar, acting head of the Heritage Lottery Fund East Midlands, said: “This is thoroughly deserved.”
Sandra Lawton, of Baslow, nurse consultant in dermatology for the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham; Jeremy Richardson, of Chesterfield, contact centre manager for the DWP’s Network Services Directorate in Derby; and David Walker, of Bakewell, founder and chairman of disability organisation Autochair, all receive the OBE.
And Robin Wood, from Hope Valley, receives the MBE for services to heritage crafts and skills. Mr Wood specialises in making wooden bowls and plates, and was named Artisan of the Year in 2009.