New Year Honours: Dickie Bird ‘bowled over’ as sporting heroes awarded

OBE: Cricket umpire Dickie Bird.
OBE: Cricket umpire Dickie Bird.
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THE world’s best known cricket umpire Dickie Bird is simply bowled over - by being honoured yet again in the New Year’s Honours list.

Dickie, aged 78, was awarded the MBE in 1986.

This time he gets the OBE for his services to cricket and charity.

Speaking from his Barnsley home, Dickie told The Star he was overwhelmed.

“I have umpired three world cup final cricket games,” he said. “I was honoured to receive the MBE, and flattered to have been invited to have lunch with the Queen at Buckingham Palace and again at Windsor.

“I have an honorary doctorate from Sheffield Hallam, Leeds and Huddersfield universities and am extremely proud to be a freeman of my home town of Barnsley.

“But for everything I have achieved in life, nothing compares to this. I am stunned, utterly thrilled, and so very proud to be considered worthy for such an honour.”

But Dickie said the news had caused him a bit of a problem. “When I found out I just wanted to tell everyone! The trouble is I was sworn to secrecy until the official announcement was made. I couldn’t even tell my own sister - and that for a bloke like me was hard.”

Doncaster lass Sarah Stevenson may have been through the mill this year - but will have a happy end to 2011 with the news she receives an MBE for services to martial arts.

At the start of the year, the 28-year-old from Bentley was in training for the taekwondo world championships. But then she received the devastating news both her parents, Roy and Diane, were suffering terminal cancer. She tried to pull out of the championships to be with them but they insisted she went, because they wanted nothing more than to see their daughter win. Sarah won the welterweight title in Korea, becoming the first British winner at that level, just two weeks after dad Roy had been diagnosed with a brain tumour. He died four months ago, and her mum died last month.

Surprise was raised in the sporting community when Sarah was not included in the nominations for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award, a list which controversially failed to include any women at all.

She took up taekwondo as a six-year-old under Doncaster coach Gary Sykes, and has already competed in three Olympic games, winning bronze in Beijing in 2008.

Now she has vowed to try to win gold in London in 2012 in memory of her proud parents.

* GOLF prodigy Rory McIlroy – who this year became the youngest US Open champion for 88 years aged just 22 – has another reason to celebrate today after he was made an MBE in the New Year’s Honours.

McIlroy joins fellow Ulster golfer Darren Clarke on the list, who also enjoyed a memorable year. Clarke, who triumphed at this year’s Open at the age of 42, is made an OBE for his services to golf.

McIlroy, honoured for his services to sport, had a whirlwind rise to the pinnacle of golf this year and teamed up with his girlfriend, world tennis number one Caroline Wozniacki, to form sport’s latest golden couple.

Though former Formula 1 motor racing world champion Nigel Mansell, 58, may be more famous for his feats behind the steering wheel, the president of the charity UK Youth, now based in Jersey, is made a CBE for services to children and young people.

Football veteran Doug Ellis, who ran Birmingham club Aston Villa for more than two decades, is knighted for charitable services.

Giles Clarke, the chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, is made a CBE for services to cricket – an honour which comes in the year that England became the number one Test-playing nation.

Rugby is also well-represented in the honours list.

Scotland’s most-capped player, 33-year-old Chris Paterson, who has made 109 appearances for his national side, is made an MBE for services to Scottish rugby.

The award comes a week after he announced his retirement from international rugby.

Wales’ most-capped forward, 36-year-old flanker Martyn Williams, is also made an MBE for his services to the sport.

The same honour goes to Jamie Peacock, the 34-year-old England Rugby League captain and Leeds Rhinos prop forward, for services to rugby league.

As Britain prepares to welcome athletes and supporters from around the world to the capital next summer, some of those who have contributed to the long-awaited Games are recognised for their contributions.

These include John Armitt, chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), who is made a knight for services to engineering and construction.

A knighthood also goes to Charles Allen, whose honour recognises his efforts to ensure nationwide benefits as part of his role at the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games.