WEARSIDE celebrates today as some of its most hard-working residents are recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Academy 360 executive head Ken Gibson has been bestowed with a knighthood for services to education.
The 55-year-old, from Cleadon, who has been in the teaching for about four decades, said he was “flabbergasted” to receive the honour.
“I have known for about five weeks since I received a letter from the Prime Minister,” he said.
“I had to reply and say whether I would like to accept. It didn’t take long to reply.
“It’s been quite difficult hanging in there without telling anyone.”
Ken, whose family has 110 years of teaching experience between them, has also been executive head teacher at Harton Technology College in South Shields for 10 years, and was headteacher at Jarrow School for three years.
He said: “It’s a great honour for all the people in the North East in education.”
Founder of Elim Toddler Group, Pat Bulmer, 66, of Seaham, also received a British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to education.
The grandmother-of-two founded the group 24 years ago, and has looked after more than 600 children with the help of her staff. “I am still surprised,” she said.
“I’m pleased to be recognised for my work, and not just for me, but everyone who has come through the doors of the group.”
Pat, who runs the session from the church in Durham Road in Sunderland, also raises money for the Elim Orphanage in Honduras through the group.
She added: “I still enjoy it and I’ve got no plans to retire from it yet.
“The group is fantastic, and the friendships that have blossomed through it are unbelievable. I love it.”
Harraton resident Frank Major has become an MBE for his services to flood and coastal erosion risk management.
The former general manager of the Port of Sunderland Authority said he is amazed to be given the honour.
“Well, it is just absolutely amazing,” said the 68-year-old, who is a grandfather-of-five. “My family are absolutely delighted. I never expected to receive a letter like that.”
Frank, who is chairman of Sunderland RNLI Station Management Group, and has been a Deputy Lieutenant for the County of Tyne and Wear since 2007, said: “I’m not a boastful person, and I have always just enjoyed my work with the community, which I chose.
“Now, coincidentally, it has been recognised by a higher authority.”
A BEM has also been awarded to Wingate resident and Durham County Councillor Robert Taylor, for services to community.
The 71-year-old secretary of Castle Eden Cricket Club, has also been chairman of governors at Wingate Junior School since 1996, and chairman of Wingate Infant School since 2003, and been a member of Wingate Parish Council for the last 20 years.
Coun Taylor, who is known as Leo, said: “I was surprised when I found out I was getting it, because I’ve never done anything that I thought was outstanding.
“I just did what I had to do, and I have enjoyed my life being part of the community.”