BUSINESSWOMAN Anne Ganley has received an unexpected belated Christmas present – an OBE in the New Year’s Honours List.
Thompson Building Centres’ boss Anne has been recognised for her charity work and her contribution to the builder’s merchant industry.
“It was a huge surprise to hear the news of this honour, which was completely unexpected,” she said.
“It is really humbling, when you consider OBEs go to people who have done so much for their community, to be considered worthy of being in that group.
“This has made this the best Christmas ever for me. I am absolutely overwhelmed.”
Anne, a former Sunderland Echo Portfolio Business Awards Entrepreneur of the year, joined the family scrap metal business straight from school at the age of 15 and is now in charge of a multimillion-pound company.
Her father, Albert, established the business and she inherited his business acumen, pushing the firm in a new direction when she realised the scrap metal market was declining.
Fiercely proud of her Wearside roots, Anne has always been keen to promote the company’s role in the wider community and Thompson’s was a leading supporter of the Brothers in Arms charity and its campaign to build a new memorial to Wearside’s fallen war heroes.
Also celebrating an OBE in today’s honours is Castle View Enterprise Academy principal Janet Bridges, recognised for services to education.
“I am very humbled and honoured to accept it on behalf of all the staff,” she said. “The staff work relentlessly with determination and compassion for the children in their care and it is an honour to accept this on behalf of everybody.
“I genuinely don’t have any idea who nominated me – it had all been kept very quiet from me until the letter arrived about a month ago.”
Janet is not the only Wearside educator to be recognised in today’s honours. Former Sunderland College principal Angela O’Donoghue is made a CBE for services to further education.
And there is an MBE for services to industry and foreign trade for Doreen Miller-Charlton, from Washington, a board member with Cramlington-based Miller Ltd.
Community stalwart George Ottowell, 88, of Easington Colliery has received an MBE.
Dad-of-one Mr Ottowell, who lives with wife, Elizabeth, 87, is a former chairman of the Easington Miners’ Welfare and the residents’ association.
The former safety officer at the Easington pit held a meeting every single week for 12 consecutive years as he campaigned for development in the village.
Mr Ottowell was also part of the rescue service, spending 10 days searching and working to save lives in the aftermath of the 1951 pit explosion, which killed 81 miners and two rescuers.
He said: “I am very proud, it was an extremely pleasant surprise.
“I like to think I helped to get things moving in Easington and to receive this honour is fantastic recognition.”