Community stars, police officers and education bosses all shine in New Year’s Honours

Muhammad Zahur with his letter informing him he will be receiving an MBE on the New Year Honours list for his work establishing the Pakistan Muslim Centre and community work. Picture: Andrew Roe
Muhammad Zahur with his letter informing him he will be receiving an MBE on the New Year Honours list for his work establishing the Pakistan Muslim Centre and community work. Picture: Andrew Roe
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A Sheffield stalwart said he is ‘staggered’ to have been awarded an MBE for his services to the city’s Pakistani community.

Muhammad Zahur was recognised in the Queen’s New Year Honours for his tireless community work, including the establishment of the Pakistani Muslim Centre.

Dr Stephen Perrin

Dr Stephen Perrin

Mr Zahur, aged 69, of Dore Road, Dore, comes from a small village in Pakistan and moved to the UK in 1971.

The self-employed chartered accountant has been a magistrate since 1973, a member of the Rotary Club of Hallam and treasurer of Sheffield Red Cross.

During the miners’ strike and closure of the steelworks in the early 1980s, Mr Zahur decided he wanted to help members of the Pakistani community who had been made redundant.

He said: “The strike and closure of the factories and steelworks made a lot of Pakistani people redundant so I joined forces with one or two other people to give them advice, to stop them from losing heart and to assure them there were other things to do.”

Sheffield Council gave them use of an old Victorian school building on Woodbourn Road, Sheffield, and the rest is history.

Today the centre remains a focal point Sheffield’s Pakistani population.

Mr Zahur said: “It did help people, it did give people hope and I’m really proud.

“To be honoured for something which I love working for has really staggered me.”

Also recognised was Barnsley councillor and fire authority chief Coun James Andrews who was awarded the British Empire Medal.

The former engineer, of Birdwell, has been a councillor since 1986 and was recognised for his services to local government.

He has been a member of the South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue authority, of which he is now chairman, since 1990.

Coun Andrews, aged 63, said: “It feels very nice indeed to be thought of in that way.

“I was very surprised to get the letter. I will be celebrating with the family.”

Two South Yorkshire education chiefs - Colin Booth, principal of Barnsley College and David Hudson, executive head of Clifton Community School in Rotherham - both received the OBE for services to education.

Colin has helped bring Barnsley College firmly into the 21st century during his six years as principal.

The college has undergone a massive redevelopment programme during his time in charge and work is continuing with the creation of a new £17 million sixth form campus in the town centre.

David, aged 63, began his teaching career in 1973 and took over at the then Wickersley Comprehensive in 2002 after moving from Bircotes and Harworth Community School in Nottinghamshire.

Since then he has become a National Leader of Education - one of a select number of outstanding heads chosen to support other schools in challenging circumstances.

In 2013 he became executive headteacher at Rawmarsh Community School and this year took on a similar role at Clifton Community School with a view to raising standards and levels of achievement.

Former South Yorkshire Police chief Graham Cassidy received the Queen’s Police Medal for services to policing.

The retired Chief Superintendent served with South Yorkshire Police for a quarter of a century before spending the final seven years of his career as National Secretary of the Police Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales and one of the lead negotiators on the staff side of the Police Negotiating Board.

The QPM is awarded to police officers for gallantry or distinguished service.

Previous recipients include South Yorkshire Chief Constable David Crompton and his predecessor Med Hughes.

Mr Cassidy, whose father was also a bobby, said being a police officer was ‘the best job in the world’.

He started his career as a 25-year-old PC in Thorne, Doncaster, and rose up the ranks to become a District Commander in Sheffield and Doncaster.

He said he was ‘very humbled and honoured’ to receive recognition from The Queen.

“I would like to think this is an honour for all the teams I have worked with over the years and the family that has supported me in doing what can be quite a difficult and challenging job but one which remains the best job in the world,” he said.

Sheffield community stalwart Alva Guy Lambert, 70, has been made MBE for almost 40 years of distinguished service.

He was awarded the honour for services to the community and his work for the city’s Afro-Caribbean population, in particular.

Mr Lambert joined the West Indian Association in 1974 and went on to establish Sheffield’s first credit union.

He has held the roles of treasurer, manager and chairman of the association, and in 1994 was appointed as director of the new South Yorkshire Afro-Caribbean centre on The Wicker.

Former Barnsley Football Club chairman John Dennis was made MBE.

The 64-year-old, who left the club in 2002, received the honour for services to the community in Barnsley and Grimethorpe.

Mr Dennis set up charitable company Access to Sport and Recreation, with Alan Sherriff, former chair of Barnsley Building Society, in 2009 to revitalise the former Grimethorpe Miners’ Welfare Sports and Social Club, on Brierley Road,

Work included rebuilding the cricket pavilion and attracting football teams back to the site.

Also recognised was Dr Steven Perrin, who was made MBE for services to the cinema industry.

Dr Perrin, aged 65, and of Nether Edge, Sheffield, is currently chief executive of the UK Digital Fund Partnership, established in 2009 by the Cinema Exhibitors’ Association with the support of the UK Film Council, to oversee the deployment of digital equipment to the UK independent operator sector.

He has been hailed one of the UK’s most well-known and internationally respected film industry players and was previously head of distribution and exhibition at the UK Film Council.

He said: “It was a complete surprise and a great honour.

“I suppose it is nice to be recognised for the work one has done throughout one’s career and it is a wonderful thing to happen.

“My children and grandchildren are all coming to visit me for New Year’s Eve so I will be able to tell them all together.”