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Royal seal of approval

HONOURED: Wade Lyn with his award-winning patties

IT IS that time again when the Queen’s Birthday Honours list recognises the achievements of hardworking individuals across all sectors of society.

However, out of the 1,180 recipients who have been awarded this year, only six per cent are from a black and minority ethnic (BME) background – far below the 14 per cent of the population they represent.

The Government has been campaigning to get more nominations from black, Asian and other communities among the candidates.

Civil service chief Sir Bob Kerslake told The Voice: “We need to raise awareness of the opportunity and that’s why we have put in a lot of time talking to people in the media who particularly focus on the BME community in this country.

“We also want to get across this message that the honours system is for everybody in this country.”
However, not everyone feels positive about the honours system, which dates back to the 18th century, and bestows upon people titles such as Member of the British Empire (MBE).

Over the weekend, a row erupted on social networking site Twitter between activist Lee Jasper, a former advisor to the Mayor of London and Brixton-based author, Alex Wheatle.

Jasper wrote: “Anything with the word empire in it should be an anathema to most conscious black people, yet we are proud as punch.”

Wheatle, who was awarded an MBE in 2008 for services to literature hit back, stating: “I am proud of that work and I'm not going to allow you to belittle it.”

Jasper, who has since deleted the tweets, pointed to well-respected figures like poet Benjamin Zephaniah who famously refused to accept an honour in 2003.

However, Sir Bob believes that one person being awarded a title can bring great benefits a whole community.

“People get the honour for their own personal achievement, but it also has a benefit for the place they live in,” he added. “There is a lot of talent out there and if they are business people it’s a great chance to be recognised and if they are a community organisation the profile may help with fundraising and [attracting] involvement.”

Here are some of this year’s recipients who shared their journey with The Voice…

WADE LYN CBE

A MAN who brought the taste of Jamaica into the heart of the UK with his award-winning patties was rewarded with a CBE.

In fact, the Royal family is already familiar with the patty-maker’s tasty treats. He got the seal of approval from Prince Charles who expressed a desire to try a selection of the pastry made at the Birmingham-based factory of Cleone Foods Ltd after presenting Lyn with the prestigious UK Small Business of the Year Award in London last summer.

Lyn gladly obliged by sending a few patties to Clarence House for the staff to try. “He was very interested in our factory – it was such an honour,” said Lyn of the exchange with the Prince. Now an even greater honour has been granted to Lyn with a CBE for services to business within the West Midlands.

When The Voice tried to catch up with him to congratulate him on his award, he was in the air flying to Jamaica for the Diaspora Conference in Montego Bay.

Beverly Lindsay, who chairs the Association of Jamaican Nationals (Birmingham) UK, said his award was well deserved. “It is so good for Wade to be recognised like this because he is one of the unsung heroes of our community,” she said. “He is a business mentor and great role model who can always be called upon to contribute to anything happening within the community.”

Lyn, 53, who was born in Chapelton, Clarendon, left Jamaica with his family in the 1960s for a new life in Birmingham. In 1988, he decided to start making authentic patties with the support of his aunt Dell, now in her 80s, who still lives in Chapelton where she used to run a small bakery.

Cleone Foods has now grown into a multi award-winning firm, employing 50 staff who make around 150,000 patties a week. They stock the ‘big five’ supermarkets including Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons and the Co-op.

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MARTIN LEVERMORE MBE

AN ENTREPRENEUR whose medical inventions have improved the lives of millions of patients across the globe was awarded an MBE for services to business in the West Midlands.

The chief executive of Wolverhampton-based Medical Devices Technology International (MDTI) has been the mastermind behind a number of medical products borne out of his own frustration at being unable to obtain simple, cost-effective medical equipment produced in the UK. The multi-award winning company has already received widespread accolades for its ‘hoo-kON’ intravenous drip and the Physiomaster, an inflatable cushion that helps reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis. The drip has been used by NHS trusts in the UK and also the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the treatment of people across the world.

Levermore, 51, a former Army bomb disposal officer, who served in Northern Ireland during the 1980s, said: “It’s a very proud moment to receive such an award, but it’s not about me – it’s about the first class team I work with. It is their knowledge, skill, integrity and honesty that has helped to make MDTI a success.”

Levermore launched the business in 2004 with co-director Shirley Atkin, who has since passed away. He employs five staff, and indirectly supports a further 150 employees in other industries. Following four and a half years in the Army, Levermore, who trained as an economist and a gilt-edged dealer in the City of London, went into international banking, working with the Spanish bank Banesto. Born in the UK to Jamaican parents, Levermore, from Great Barr in Birmingham, confessed that friends tell him he is a ‘workaholic’ but loves to spend precious time with his daughter Harriet and adopted goddaughter Charde.

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ADE ADETOSOYE OBE

The man responsible for turning around the failing children services department at a local authority has been rewarded with an OBE.

Adetosoye, 43, spent seven years as the director of social care at Lambeth Council and during this time, he focused on tackling an over-reliance on agency staff and strengthened employee training and development programmes. His strong leadership helped transform a failing specialist division, into one that is now unique in England in winning outstanding ratings by Ofsted for child protection, adoption, fostering and children in care.

He said: “I feel absolutely delighted for getting the honour and it’s important to me in that it’s not just about my work, but to pay tribute to my previous colleagues in Lambeth, the social workers and the staff for supporting these vulnerable and challenging children and for working with me.”
Adetosoye was recently promoted from Lambeth to the director of Community and Children’s Services at the City of London Corporation.

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SOLA AFUAPE MBE

A woman striving to improve health inequality for the black and ethnic minority communities has been honoured with an MBE.

Sola Afuape, 44, from London is an equality advisor to the NHS and voluntarily works as the chair of the Afiya Trust, a national charity. Despite the financial challenges and being under-staffed, Afuape has continued to promote black and minority ethnic (BME) health and social care issues.

She said: “I appreciate being recognised personally by this MBE, for the contribution that I’ve made, but I am also extremely pleased to see that there is recognition for these issues. It sends a message that the work myself and others are doing is important. There is still a lot to be done to improve health provision for BME communities and I am encouraged to keep going.”

Afuape hopes to continue working towards improving health outcomes particularly for diabetes, dementia and cancer, as well as attitudes to issues such as mental health.  She believes there needs to be more awareness about the Queen’s Honours nomination system to encourage more people to come forward.

She said: “It’s really important that anybody who is a citizen of this country should have an equal opportunity to contribute and be recognised. The difficulty is that people don’t always associate themselves as being part of this system. This is not true. A significant number of people from the BME community work tirelessly and unsupported in some of the most challenging circumstances to achieve exceptional things. We all have a role to play in identifying and nominating these people as their work contributes to the well-being of our society.”

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MAIRE TEJANI MBE

A London mother who set up a charity to build schools in villages has been awarded with an MBE. The 54-year-old from Bethnal Green, east London founded Yaarah School three-and-a-half years ago.

The charity focuses on providing education to under-privileged children in Ghana, West Africa.

Tejani said: “It is amazing to have been given this honour, I feel the work is only just beginning and while we have come very far; there is still so much to be done.”

Tenjani has always had a passion for changing lives. She said: “I know my input will have made a difference to at least one person’s life. After visiting a village school in Ghana and realising that the children had so much potential and actually wanted to go to school, but had no school buildings to be taught in, I decided something had to change. When I returned to the UK I said to my family, we need to set up a charity to help raise funds to build suitable infrastructure which we did.”

Tejani has won support from friends and family and through a number of fundraising events in the UK. She added: “We have completed the first school and are now working on the second school in the Northern region of Ghana; we are hoping to continue building schools for the hundreds of charities around the world who need them. Education is something no one can take away from you and so every child deserves a chance to receive an education in a proper school building.”

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LLOYD GEORGE NEWBY MBE

A MAN who has spent nearly 30 years improving community cohesion in his hometown in Derbyshire had been awarded with an MBE.

Lloyd George Newby, 66, emigrated to the UK from Jamaica in 1965 and set up his motor mechanic business in Normanton where he has worked tirelessly at bringing together existing and diverse comminutes. He now lives in Sunny Hill and is the vice-chairman of the Derby West Indian Community Association, which he has been involved in since the 1980s.

He said: “I feel overwhelmed, ever so glad. I feel fantastic, like I’m walking on air.”

Newby also sits on the Derby Council Partnership Board and the Crown Prosecution Service Hate Crime Scrutiny Panel. He was also a governor at Hardwick Primary School working with black boys to inspire and motivate them. But despite his sparkling reputation, Newby admitted that he has faced some hassle from the police, while road-testing his customer’s cars.

In 2002, Newby became a member of the Derbyshire Constabulary’s Independent Advisory Group and four years later, took a paid role where he spent a further six years monitoring and scrutinizing performance. During this time he was the only black member on the police authority.

He said: “They didn’t understand the community and the way we work, so I brought a lot of grassroots intelligence to Derbyshire police.”

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FRANCIS CHINEGWUNDOH MBE

A specialist cancer expert has been awarded an MBE for his services to the NHS.

Francis Chinegwundoh, 52, from east London is a urological surgeon consultant at St Barts Health. He also sits on six different government advisory panels, and has been the chairman of the charity Black Cancer Care since 1998 supporting black and minority ethnic cancer sufferers.

He said: “I’m delighted to get this gong for my services to the NHS, which is great as I’ve also done a lot stuff both work and outside work, in the voluntary sector.”

An expert in prostate cancer, Chinegwundoh has recently appeared on TV urging men to get tested, especially those of African and Caribbean descent who are three times more likely to get prostate cancer.

He said: “In 2008 I introduced the Brachytherapy to St Barts Health, an alternative to surgery for treating prostate cancer by the use of radiotherapy. Twelve thousand men die of prostate cancer each year – which works out to be one every hour. It is the biggest killer and if a lot of men had the PSA blood test, they would have stood a better chance of catching it early.”

Outside work, Chinegwundoh is involved in the Reach Society, a social enterprise made up of a group of professionals who speak at schools and colleges to try to motivate, inspire and encourage black young boys.

He added: “What is most important [about the OBE] is that it shows young black boys it is possible to do well if you work hard and have an aim.”

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