Swimmer Matt Wylie has a new title to add to his Paralympic gold as his sporting success is celebrated in the New Year’s Honours list.
The 20-year-old, from Washington, has been awarded the MBE in the list in recognition of his services to swimming.
It comes at the end of an amazing year for Matt, who claimed gold in an historic victory in the S9 50m Freestyle on day six of the Paralympics in Rio.
The victory by the City of Sunderland swimmer, who has cerebral palsy, saw him become the first British Paralympic medallist in the men’s S9 50m Freestyle since the modern classification system was introduced in 1992.
In the same season he also became European and British Champion in the same event.
This was very delightful and surprising news.Dame Vera Baird
Also recognised with an OBE is Ailsa Rutter, director of Fresh Smokefree North East, for her services to tobacco control.
And Vera Baird, Northumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, is made a Dame for services to women and equality.
She said: “This was very delightful and surprising news. “I am particularly pleased that the award specifically refers to services to the cause of women and equality, recognising that gender equality is desirable for the country and for everyone in it.
“There have been great advances but there is still more to do.
“It is important we also continue addressing other forms of equality, across race, religion, sexual orientation, disability and the other protected strands in the Equality Act 2010, which I helped to take through Parliament, as Solicitor General.
“I have been a longstanding equality campaigner, as a lawyer, an MP a Government Minister and now as Police and Crime Commissioner, in particular tackling the significant interference with human rights caused by violence against women and girls, still rife in our society.
“Many others have worked equally hard and our greatest task ahead is fundamentally to change the culture so that no such violence is ever acceptable and those who perpetrate it are rejected.
“I feel truly proud to receive this honour, and see it as giving the cause of equality a boost. I would like to thank all the many people who have supported, helped and encouraged me over the years. We must continue to work together to achieve the equality we are fighting for.”