Prue Leith, Lemn Sissay and Alison Moyet recognised in Queen’s birthday honours

Key figures in UK arts, culture and sport rewarded in list dominated by heroes and heroines of pandemic

The Great British Bake Off judge Prue Leith, the poet Lemn Sissay and the singer-songwriter Alison Moyet are among notable figures in the arts to have been recognised in the Queen’s birthday honours list.

In a list dominated once again by the heroes and heroines of the coronavirus pandemic, and particularly key players in Britain’s successful vaccine rollout, there remained room to laud the achievements of people in the nation’s fields of arts, culture and sport.

Leith has entered the most senior ranks of the Order of the British Empire by becoming a dame, alongside the sculptor Phyllida Barlow and the Strictly Come Dancing judge Arlene Philips. The actor Jonathan Pryce, who played Pope Francis in the Two Popes and the High Sparrow in Game of Thrones, has also been awarded the highest honour, receiving a knighthood having been given a CBE in 2009.

A number of female singer-songwriters have also been recognised in the 2021 honours list, including Skin (real name Deborah Ann Dyer) the singer-songwriter known best as the frontwoman of the rock band Skunk Anansie, who has been given an OBE for services to music. Lulu, who received an OBE in 2000, is made a commander of the Order of the British Empire, for services to music, entertainment and charity, while Moyet, the singer of It Won’t Be Long and Invisible, is awarded an MBE for services to music.

Also in the world of music, Arnold George Dorsey, better known as Engelbert Humperdinck, is given an MBE For services to music, while John Heath Summers, the CEO of the Hallé Orchestra, and the cellist Julian Lloyd Webber are given an OBE.

In the literary world, the historical fiction blockbuster novelist Philippa Gregory, the author of The Red Queen and The Other Boleyn Girl, is awarded a CBE alongside the pioneering publisher and writer Margaret Busby, the writer and potter Edmund de Waal, who was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 2011. Sissay is given an OBE alongside the children’s and young adults’ writer David Almond.

In the sporting sphere, the commentator Sue Barker is awarded a CBE for services to sport, broadcasting and charity, alongside the former Crystal Palace manager Roy Hodgson, who receives the same honour for services to football. The director of rugby at Leeds Rhinos, Kevin Sinfield, receives an OBE for services to rugby league and charitable fundraising for motor neurone disease.

While debate continues about the England football’s team decision to keep taking the knee to combat racism in the sport, the Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling is awarded an MBE for services to racial equality, while Liverpool’s captain, Jordan Henderson, gets the same honour for services to charity.

Other perhaps lesser known figures in the arts were also celebrated, such as Catherine Elizabeth McGill, the director of Folk Arts Oxford, who is awarded a British Empire Medal for services to the arts after transforming the Folk Weekend Oxford festival into an entirely online event in four weeks when lockdown was announced, and the 23-year-old saxophonist Jess Gillam, who receives an MBE for “animating the music world with her outstanding talent and infectious personality”.

• This article was amended on 15 June 2021. Jess Gillam was awarded an MBE, not a British Empire Medal as stated in an earlier version.


Alexandra Topping

The GuardianTramp

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