SEVERAL brilliant Bradford women are among those from the district who have been honoured in this year’s New Years Honours list.

Ten have been made Members of the British Empire with a further lady receiving the British Empire Medal.

They have been honoured for their dedication and hard work in improving the lives and opportunities of the communities of Bradford and elsewhere, particularly those most hard to reach or living in deprived areas.

Sportsmen, Bradford professors and top civil servant have also been recognised in this year’s list.

Founders of Bradford Literature Festival Syima Aslam and Irna Qureshi both get MBEs for their efforts in running the festival and improving access to literature for children and communities in the district.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

It has helped boost Bradford’s economy and changed perceptions of the city, and also opened reading to people from disadvantaged and deprived communities.

Ms Aslam, 47, said: “I was quite surprised, it’s a great honour but it’s not something I was expecting.

“It’s recognition of the work of the Festival, something that’s close to our hearts, inspiring young people and raising aspirations.

“Having our work recognised in a national platform like this is really heartening and a vote of confidence for the festival and the whole city.

“Our festival is very different, our model is different; ethical ticketing, our education programme being free, all of that has come out of Bradford.

“If our MBEs can boost the festival that would be wonderful.”

Michelle Blanchard, 38, from Bingley, also gets an MBE for services to education.

She has served as Executive Principal of Dixons Academies Trust, changing young people’s lives through learning, and is now headteacher of Beckfoot Allerton.

She also provides expert guidance for leaders and teachers across the country on improving behaviour in classrooms to improve learning.

She said: “I’d just got home from a tough week at work and saw the letter; it was a total shock.

“I was really surprised, I just feel like I’m doing the job that I love.

“I’ve always worked in Bradford and it opened my eyes to working with the most disadvantaged and vulnerable children.

“They need the best teachers and leaders, and in that time things have improved a lot and this shines a positive light on Bradford; great teachers doing amazing work.

“My mum is more excited than me, she went to Buckingham Palace for getting her Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award and would love to go back, she’ll have picked out her dress before me!”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

Sofia Buncy is honoured for her work in the community at the Khidmat Centre in Bradford and for raising the issue facing BME women in prison.

With a team of volunteers she delivered 60 parcels a day to the vulnerable during the pandemic and campaigns against Nitrous Oxide use in the city.

She said: “It was really unexpected, I had to take a few moments to reflect, I’m delighted with it.

“I’ve been in community development for 18 years, and working in the prison system for nine, and I’m passionate about both.

“I find the community work so rewarding, it gives me purpose and happiness, so it took me back a bit, I didn’t think it needed recognising. I’m deeply honoured.”

Kim Shutler, chief executive of Shipley charity The Cellar Trust, receives an MBE for services to people with mental health issues.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Prof Diana AndersonProf Diana Anderson

Professor of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Bradford Diana Anderson also has been awarded an MBE for services to genetic and reproductive toxicology.

She said: “It is a great honour to receive such a prestigious award and I am thankful to everyone who has supported me in my career.

"I have loved being at the University of Bradford over the last 20 years and have had the pleasure of supervising an inspirational group of students from all over the world.

“My passion for learning and finding innovative solutions to problems has driven my research and subsequent papers and it would be lovely to think along the way I’ve inspired others to do the same.”

Mandip Sahota, founder of Strategies and Stories, gets an MBE for her charitable and public service, while Arjmund Butt becomes an MBE for her services to HM Revenue and Custom and ethnic minority communities.

Bingley’s Kaneez Khan, coordinator of Near Neighbours in West Yorkshire, also gets an MBE for services to interfaith relations, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Morrisons’ Angela Johnson also gets an MBE for her work ensuring steady food supply to Gibraltar after Brexit.

She said: “I am incredibly honoured to receive an MBE for my work supporting our Gibraltar store over the past couple of years.”

Pamela Essler, 75, from Keighley, who has served on non-executive boards for the NHS in the Bradford and Craven for the last 25 years, has been awarded a BEM.

Benjamin Rimmington, from Ilkley, has been awarded a CBE for services to transport during Covid-19 in his former role as co-director of road safety standards and services at the Department of Transport.

Prof Mahendra Patel, visiting professor at the University of Bradford, gets an OBE for services to pharmacy.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Jonny Brownlee and Tom Pidcock. Pic: PAJonny Brownlee and Tom Pidcock. Pic: PA

In the sporting world, two Olympians who succeeded in Tokyo last summer are honoured with MBEs; gold-medal winning triathlete, Bingley Harrier, and ex-Bradford Grammar student Jonathan Brownlee, and Otley’s gold-medal winning mountain biker Tom Pidcock.

Calderdale police officer DI Gary Stephenson has been handed the Queen’s Police Medal.