Sunderland stalwarts make New Year Honours list

Jim Cleghorn has been awarded an BEM for services to the community.
Jim Cleghorn has been awarded an BEM for services to the community.
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A CHARITY stalwart, who has dedicated almost five decades to helping sick and needy people across Wearside, is among those named in the New Year Honours.

Jim Cleghorn, from High Barnes, is a veteran volunteer with the Variety Club children’s charity, Sunderland Lions fund-raising group as well as the Apostleship of the Sea group, which helps struggling and poverty-stricken seamen who stop off at the city’s port.

The 79-year-old, who has been given the British Empire Medal, also helped launch the former Sunderland Respite Trust, which transformed the lives of hundreds of disabled children.

“I couldn’t believe it when the letter arrived telling me about the award,” he said. “There are so many more people more deserving than me, but it’s an amazing honour.”

The great-grandad has been a member of the Variety Club, which supports sick, disabled and disadvantaged youngsters, for 12 years, the Sunderland Lions, which organises a range of charity events, for 48 years, and regularly helps out at the Apostleship of the Sea since it was set up three years ago

“I’ve always enjoyed the charity work that I’ve done and, although I’m now getting on a bit, I’ve got no plans to give it up.

“I suppose as I get older, I’ll have to slow down a bit, but I’ll do as much as I can for as long as I can.”

Judy Donnelly, headteacher at Pennywell Early Years Centre, in Sunderland, has been awarded an OBE for services to children.

A teacher for 38 years, she has helped the centre achieve a string of “outstanding” Ofsted reports. Ms Donnelly, who has been headteacher at the centre for 16 years, said: “It was a complete surprise when I heard the news about the award.

“I had no idea. I thought it was some kind of joke at first.

“But it has been a pleasure to work in Pennywell and we couldn’t have achieved the Ofsted reports without the hard work of the staff and the support of all the parents and families.”

Elsewhere, Steven Leslie Lowthian, head of operations at HM Revenue and Customs, in Washington, was given an OBE for services to child benefit reform and voluntary service to children’s football, in Durham.

Dr Arnab Basu, from Belmont, Durham, has been given an MBE for services to regional development and international trade.

He is chief executive officer of technology company Kromek Ltd.

Dr William Forster Dennison, chairman of governors at Parkview Academy, in Chester-le-Street, has been given an MBE for services to education.

Barbara Ann Spooner, from Chester-le-Street, was given an MBE for services to law enforcement for her work as team leader of intelligence collection at the Serious Organised Crime Agency.

Councillor Clive Robson, from Durham County Council, was given a British Empire Medal for services to the community as was John Darwin Johnson for services to the community in Castle Eden.