IT’S a bumper crop of honours in Gwent this year in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

This year’s honours list, usually announced in June, was delayed so those who had played a role in the coronavirus pandemic could be recognised.

Among those named this year is long-serving Newport councillor Matthew Evans, who has been awarded an MBE.

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Cllr Matthew Evans. Picture:

Cllr Evans, who served as leader of the city council from 2008-12 and as mayor in 2014/15, has been recognised for political and public service.

The Allt-yr-yn ward councillor said it is “a huge honour” to receive the award.

“I have said many times that you don’t get involved in local politics for the money or to seek recognition – you do it to try and make a difference, and I hope that I have managed to do that,” Cllr Evans said.

“But I feel incredibly lucky to be receiving this award.”

Cllr Evans said he was first told about the news in May and that it has been difficult keeping it secret from his family.

“I know my daughters are particularly impressed – now that I have something in common with Ed Sheeran,” he joked.

Cllr Evans has represented the Allt-yr-yn ward since 1999 and has been the leader of Newport City Council’s Conservative group since 2003.

He has also been a school governor at two primary schools since 1999.

Married to Tina Hatton-Evans since 1992, they have two daughters, Bethan and Jessica, and a rescue Springer Spaniel called Rosie.

Also receiving an MBE is Neil Pearce, from Newport, who was acclaimed for his work at the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Pearce, the health board’s head of estates, maintenance and operations, was “personally on duty 24/7 throughout the pandemic, always available” and has “provided support and reassurance wherever needed”, his commendation read.

A health service employee for 36 years, Mr Pearce said he was “truly privileged and honoured” to learn he had been made an MBE.

“I’m blessed with a fantastic team, and without them this wouldn’t have been possible,” he said. “It’s all down to the dedication and commitment of the team.”

As Covid-19 arrived in Wales, Mr Pearce oversaw sweeping changes at the region’s hospitals to prepare for the influx of coronavirus patients.

He was responsible for bringing in 90 additional intensive care beds and transforming ward spaces to create cubicles and segregated bays.

Mr Pearce said the coronavirus public health crisis had been “challenging to say the least” and unlike anything he had witnessed in his three-and-a-half decades working for the NHS.

“Everybody has risen to the challenge,” he said. “So many people in the health service worked tirelessly throughout the first wave.”

He added: “I’m very privileged to have such a fantastic team.”

Another health worker to receive an MBE in the birthday honours is Dr Carolyn Middleton, the associate director of nursing at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board. She has been granted the honour for services to nursing.

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Dr Carolyn Middleton

Dr Middleton, also from Newport, has worked at the Gwent health board since 1999 but has been a nurse for 43 years, also working in Cardiff.

She said she was “absolutely stunned and humbled” to find out about the award, and was further delighted to receive a letter from the lord lieutenant of Gwent, congratulating her on her honour.

Dr Middleton’s role as associate director of nursing gave her responsibility for the regulation and registration of nurses, medicines and prescriptions, and education for undergraduates and post-graduates.

She said the Covid-19 pandemic was an “unprecedented” challenge, “particularly when Aneurin Bevan University Health Board was at the forefront”.

The response from nurses and the health service in general was “absolutely overwhelming”, she said.

Her own role in the response included the deployment of student nurses into paid roles.

Dr Middleton has recently retired but continues to work part-time in her health board role.

On the nursing profession, she said: “It’s a wonderful career in terms of the variety of different roles. It gives you the opportunity unlike anything else to be really close to people.”

Also receiving an honour for his work during the Covid-19 pandemic is Mathew David Hill, from Newport, who has been given a British Empire Medal (BEM) for service to St John Ambulance Cymru during the public health crisis.

Professor Christianne Glossop, Chief Veterinary Officer for Wales, has been awarded an OBE for services to animal health and welfare.

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Professor Christianne Glossop

Prof Glossop, who has lived in Monmouthshire since she became the first person to be appointed to her role in 2005, said the honour “means the world to her.”

“You hear people talking about this experience and you can’t imagine it would be you,” she said. “You get the letter and think it must be a wind up or a mistake.”

Prof Glossop, 64, said it meant even more to be given the honour for services to animal health and welfare, something she has dedicated her life to.

“I decided that I wanted to be a vet when I was 13 years old,” she said. “I set my heart on that.

“It’s been an amazing and varied career, but everything I’ve done has been based with that in mind – when practicing, when researching, when lecturing and consulting around the world.

“To see those words next to my name, it means the world.

“I was surprised, and I was humbled.

“This is a strange year for all of us in so many ways. Never before have we all, as a society, acknowledged the impact of being healthy as much as now.

“There is this phrase, ‘One Health’, which means the health of people, animals and the environment are all linked.

“So to be given this award now means a lot as we know how important it is to promote our health, animals’ health and the environment’s health.”

Prof Glossop said the delay in this year’s list due to the coronavirus pandemic had made it difficult to keep the secret to herself.

“This list has been delayed for a long time,” she said. “It was difficult to sit on it for so long. Luckily I haven’t seen everyone at work for six months, so it was easier not to tell them.”

Also receiving an OBE is Professor Sheryl Dianne Watkins, who has been given the honour for services to nursing education and research.

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Professor Sheryl Dianne Watkins

Ms Watkins, from Usk, has had a distinguished career nationally and internationally, spending 44 years in the NHS.

The 63-year-old is a registered nurse, midwife and health visitor, and is currently the deputy head of the school of healthcare sciences and a professor of public health nursing at Cardiff University.

Professor Watkins said on the honour: “I am thrilled to receive an OBE as recognition of the work I have done nationally and internationally to promote the profession of nursing.”

She came into education in 1990 and has held a variety of positions including lecturer, senior lecturer, reader and international dean of college of biomedical sciences at Cardiff University.

She also played a vital part in introducing degree education for all nurses and is part of the all-Wales team that also developed non-medical prescribing for nurses.

Professor Watkins has also had a number of successful international projects including developing degrees in nursing and community nursing in Oman which ended up training more than 500 nurses at degree level in the country. She has also run projects in Africa that focus on the development of nurse leadership and quality improvement in Namibia and Malawi where there is also a practice development unit to improve quality of care for patients.

Professor Watkins has also been an independent member of the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board since 2016 and has had numerous published articles in prominent medical journals.

An MBE has also been awarded to consultant nurse at Gwent’s health board Elizabeth Waters, who received the honour for services to the NHS in Wales.

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Elizabeth Waters

The 59-year-old, from Crickhowell, said: “I am delighted to have received an MBE for services to the NHS. I was overwhelmed when I received the letter and hugely grateful to have been nominated.

“I could not accept this award without paying tribute to all my colleagues in Aneurin Bevan Health Board - the infection prevention team in particular - who work relentlessly to prevent cross infection and of course my lovely family who have supported me without fail.

“I lost my lovely mum in the summer, so I’m sad that she is not here to see me receive the award - but I know she was proud, not only of me - but my siblings and her grandchildren too.”

Ms Waters has spent two decades working in infection control and contributes the success in reducing healthcare associated infection in Aneurin Bevan Health Board hospitals to the Health Foundations Safer Patient Initiative. She said: “It was a groundbreaking initiative for the Health Board and the wider NHS and gave me the tools to significantly reduce the numbers of patients acquiring infection - which as we know can have devastating consequences.”

Throughout her career, Ms Waters has had to help keep patients safe from infections such as MRSA and C.difficile which she said has been difficult throughout the years but states the Covid-19 pandemic has been the biggest challenge so far.

She continued to work throughout the coronavirus pandemic - even when isolated at home after testing positive for the virus herself. The highly-respected nurse worked tirelessly to ensure that the health board had a hardy and vigorous infection prevention and control response and led on supplying PPE for all staff and was vital in advising on the safe restart of other services.

“I am so proud to have worked with a huge team of healthcare workers who have been tireless in preventing our hospitals from being overwhelmed by this virulent virus,” she said. “Their contribution must be recognised and the “Clap for Carers” helped considerably during some very dark and difficult days. Neither should we forget the public for their compliance with lockdown measures which has played a huge part in protecting vulnerable individuals and the NHS.”

Ms Waters has also written and co-authored published papers on good practice and in 2015 she was given the Tudgay Award for outstanding services for patients by the Community Health Council.

Another to be awarded an MBE is Pamela Scourfield, chair of governors at Bedwas High School.

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Pamela Scourfield

The 72-year-old has been awarded the honour for services to education.

She said: “I’m very honoured and it’s nice to have recognition for a lifetime's work.”

She began teaching in 1970 in Oakdale. “I started teaching during the first year where pupils had to stay on until they were 16, which needless to say some weren’t happy with as they had jobs ready to go into.”

In 2008, Ms Scourfield retired from teaching to care for family but later returned to education after a former pupil who worked at Caerphilly council asked her to help them support schools in difficulty. Further to this, Ms Scourfield used her extensive knowledge in education to become acting headteacher, an examiner with the WJEC and a teacher inspector with Estyn, as well as chair the governing body of a number of different schools throughout the borough.

Ms Scourfield has a genuine passion for teaching and enhancing the education of the borough’s youngsters. She said:”There has never been a day when I would wake up in the morning and thought I didn’t want to go to school today.

“I’ve worked in some of the socially deprived areas and the children are delightful.”

She has also worked as a volunteer for the Princes Trust, helping them to deliver courses.

Caerphilly councillor Tudor Davies has been awarded an MBE for services to the Fire and Rescue Service in Wales.

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Cllr Tudor Davies

Cllr Davies has sat on the South Wales Fire and Rescue Authority for 21 years and has spent nearly nine of them as the chairman.

The Bargoed county borough councillor said he was “very surprised” when he was first contacted about making the New Year Honours list.

He said: “When I first saw the email, I thought it was a joke.

“I was very surprised; I didn’t expect it at all as I’m only doing my duty.

“It reflects well on the fire authority, but it’s not just me on the committee.”

Cllr Davies said that when he became chairman in 2012, he made sure that politics was not brought into it.

“I told the councillors when I came in that they’re not answerable to their council, they’re answerable to the public,” he said.

“It’s non-political as far as I’m concerned.”

Also in Gwent, the Welsh Government’s director of legal services Jeffrey Godfrey, of Chepstow, was awarded a CBE for services to devolution and the legislative process in Wales, while nurse and volunteer with the Newport Sea Cadets Gemma McDonald, from Monmouthshire, was given a BEM for services to the community in Newport during the coronavirus pandemic. Food delivery driver and commanding officer with the Forest of Dean Sea Cadets Toni Salmon, from Monmouthshire, was also given a BEM for services to the community during the pandemic.