Queen’s Birthday Honours: Sunderland stalwarts recognised

ASDA staff member Maureen Wallwork BEM for services to charity
ASDA staff member Maureen Wallwork BEM for services to charity
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A tireless community volunteer, a champion of the region’s naval cadets and reserves and a talented glass artist have been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Peter Blyth and Brian Jones are made MBEs, while Maureen Wallwork receives the BEM.

Wearside Glass Sculptures, Brian Jones OBE

Wearside Glass Sculptures, Brian Jones OBE

Peter, of Fairmead Way, South Hylton, has been honoured ‘For services to the Reserve Forces and Cadets on Tyneside.’

“He has made an outstanding contribution to reserve forces and cadets in Tyneside while forging links with the community between defence, civic partners, business and charitable organisations,” reads the citation.

“His landmark achievement is ‘Project Tyneside’, the £3.2m infrastructure programme at HMS CALLIOPE, a training centre of the Royal Naval Reserve.

“He mitigated emergent work and exceptionally bad weather which could very easily have resulted in the closure of the site; such an outcome could have severely impacted on recruitment for all three branches of HM Armed Forces.

Peter Blyth MBE

Peter Blyth MBE

“His measures ensured savings for the MOD and further benefits, notably a vibrant multi-use site which is now home to the joint Maritime Reserve (RNR and RMR), over 200 university cadets and a busy armed forces careers office.”

Peter, 68, is overwhelmed to have been nominated.

“I found out about three or four weeks ago,” he said.

“I was very surprised but extremely proud.”

Thomas Hurst

Thomas Hurst

He has shared the news with wife Roni: “She was overjoyed,” he said.

“She is very happy.”

Brian Jones has been honoured ‘For services to Glassblowing.’

“His contribution to glass art is invaluable,” the citation says.

“Along with his colleague, Norman Veitch, they started work at the Pyrex factory in Sunderland, later known as Corning Glass Works. They were trained in the art of lampworking - the glassblowing technique using a gas burner – and worked as glassblowers fabricating complex chemical apparatus for use in laboratories.

“In 1996 they jointly founded Wearside Glass Sculptures. They hold daily demonstrations of lampworking, entertaining visitors and informing them about the properties of glass and the history of glassmaking in Sunderland.

They are also dedicated to teaching their skills to others and generously share their vast experience and knowledge with students. As well as being talented creative glassmakers, they have become role models for many young artists.”

Norman has now retired but Brian, 61, is still hard at work: “I found out about a month ago and asked ‘Is it April the First?’ I was completely taken aback,” he said.

“I am quite chuffed, to be honest. It was totally unexpected, but it is great.”

Maureen Wallwork has been recognised ‘For services to the community in Washington, Tyne and Wear.’

“She is a tireless voluntary worker who has helped many individuals and organisations with compassion,” reads the citation.

“For many years she volunteered with AGE UK charity where she supported lunch clubs. She has also been involved with Dementia Groups during which she helped organise seasonal events where between 250-300 pensioners attend.

“She volunteers her own time and expertise to provide a Christmas meal and entertainment for older people in an isolated community. She was instrumental in organising and setting up a community cafe at Sulgrave and now works closely with the parish church St Michael’s and All Angels which operates a weekly food project drop-in session.”

“I could not believe it,” Maureen, a community champion at Asda’s Washington store, said.

“It was not something I expected.”

With nominations tightly under wraps, 66-year-old Maureen, of Stridingedge, Blackfell, is looking forward to breaking the news to husband John, daughters Tracey and Jill and son John.

“It has been really, really hard,” she admitted.

“My daughters said they were going to take me for a cream tea for Mother’s Day but with work and everything I have on, we have just never got around to it, so I have asked them to set up a cream tea and that is when I am going to tell everyone.”

Industry guru honoured

Sunderland City Council’s Head of Automotive, Investment & Business Support, Tom Hurst has been awarded an OBE for services to Local Government and Economic Prosperity through Inward Investment.

Mr Hurst, who joined the council more than 30 years ago and lives in Stockton-on-Tees, said: “I’m very flattered and, naturally, honoured to be awarded this.

“Sunderland has always had a very strong track record in attracting global companies to locate and expand in the city. We’ve continued with that track record and are at the forefront of both job creation and inward investment.

“In achieving and sustaining this strong record, it’s always been a team effort from within the council by officers and councillors, and by working closely with our partners in both the public and private sector.”

From a standing start 30 years ago, Sunderland is now one of Europe’s major automotive locations, with around 15,000 people directly employed in the sector in the city and many thousands more in surrounding parts of the region.

Leader of Sunderland City Council, Councillor Paul Watson said: “Tom has played a central role in keeping Sunderland at the forefront of job creation.

“He was part of the team that helped attract Nissan to the region in the 1980s and he’s helped see Sunderland, and indeed the region, grow into a leading automotive centre.

“He’s been and continues to be a key player in the city’s economic resurgence and has worked across many business sectors from offshore and sub-sea, financial and customer services, to software and IT.

“He’s helped forge and steer many economic developments and successes in our city and the North East.

“This a very pleasing recognition for him, and everyone who has worked with him.

“We can all be very proud of the investment that Tom and the business team have brought to Sunderland and our region.”

Aside from the automotive sector, there are also other large manufacturers in Sunderland and household names such as Rolls Royce and BAE Systems - in 2015 manufacturing accounted for 17 per cent of city jobs, compared to eight per cent nationally.

More than 5,000 people are now employed in Sunderland’s technical and digital sector.

In services there are other household names such as Barclays and TSB who have large contact and specialist administration centres, including fraud detection units.

Irene Lucas CBE, Chief Executive of Sunderland City Council, said: “This is such a well-deserved honour for Tom. There will be many, many people across the region and the UK who will be as delighted as we are to see the fantastic work he has done in economic investment recognised in this way.

“Sunderland continues to score and rank well in attracting business investment and nurturing new talent.

“While we are at the centre of the automotive industry, Tom and his team have also played a central role in the development of other key sectors.

“Tom and his team work tirelessly in nurturing, maintaining and improving business and economic networks. This is a well-deserved thanks and recognition for all their hard work and the contributions they have made to our city and region.”

Looking to the future, the City Council is working in partnership with its neighbour South Tyneside to develop the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP) on land to the west of the A19 and north of the Nissan site.

This has been classified by the Government as a ‘nationally significant’ project. It is about attracting more than £300m of investment and 5,200 jobs.

Others from the region

Other North East figures honoured today include Barry Hudson, of High Shincliffe, who is made an MBE ‘For voluntary service to the community and Rowing’ for his work with Durham Amateur Rowing Club and Newcastle University’s Prof Roy Sandbach, who receives an OBE ‘For services to Science, Innovation and Skills.’

And Lesley Anne Powell, principal of Shotton Hall Academy, receives a CBE for services to education.

Singer-songwriter Emeli Sande has been included in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for her services to music.

The 30-year-old Next To Me musician will be made an MBE.

Sande was born in Sunderland to Zambian father Joel Sande and English mother Diane Sande on March 10 1987, but moved to the north-east of Scotland when she was four.

Her rise to fame began when she featured on track Diamond Rings, by rapper Chipmunk, in 2009.

She went on to release solo singles Heaven and Read All About It, for which she gained her first number one, in 2011.