Birthday Honours: Covid heroes honoured alongside Kelly and Muirhead


Margaret Payne

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Margaret Payne raised more than £347,000 for the NHS, Highland Hospice and RNLI

People in Scotland who contributed to the response to the Covid-19 pandemic have been recognised in the the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

TV presenter Lorraine Kelly, curler Eve Muirhead and former basketball player Kieron Achara have also been honoured.

Most of the honours were compiled before the pandemic but were deferred to consider people who helped others in the fight against the virus.

It has since prioritised frontline workers, volunteers and fundraisers.

Margaret Payne, 90, who climbed the height of the 731m (2,398ft) mountain Suilven on her staircase to raise money for charity, receives a British Empire Medal for services to the community in Lochinver.

She told the BBC she thought becoming a dame was “impossible” because “most dames have done a lifetime” of their chosen work.

“I didn’t feel it was anything very special, it was just something I’d gone on doing,” she said.

“I think that people who were shut up in their flats or couldn’t get out found it was something good happening in the world when there was so much that wasn’t good.”

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Ms Payne began the challenge in April

Her challenge started on 12 April and took almost 300 trips to complete. She raised more than £358,000 for the NHS, Highland Hospice and the RNLI.

Ms Payne said she was inspired to raise money by climbing her stairs after seeing the success of Captain Tom Moore who raised more than £13m by walking around his garden.

“By the end my knees knew they’d done it a few times,” she added.

David Maguire, 62, was recognised for repurposing his restaurant in Glasgow to provide free food to thousands of NHS workers, vulnerable people and schoolchildren.

When he found out about his MBE, Mr Maguire said: “I feel pretty overwhelmed. It took me by surprise and I’m really pleased for everybody in the organisation that I am associated with.

“It was a reflection of what we all managed to do.”

Research nurse Alison Williams receives the same medal for services to the NHS, charitable fundraising and volunteering during the pandemic.

The 41-year-old, of the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, helped patients dying with coronavirus speak to their families for the last time. She also set up the Rainbow Boxes charity which helps provide essential items such as clothing and toiletries to patients who are not allowed visitors.

“It felt very special because it’s been a really hard time for everybody,” she said.

A range of scientists and doctors from Scottish universities have also been honoured for their services during Covid including the University of Glasgow’s Prof Christian Delles, Prof Matthew Robertson, Dr Sarah Elizabeth McDonald and Prof Emma Thomson.

‘A job I dearly love’

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Lorraine Kelly said she was “humbled” to receive a CBE

Good Morning Britain presenter and former BBC Scotland researcher Lorraine Kelly said she was “humbled” to have been recognised by the Queen.

The 60-year-old is made a CBE for services to broadcasting, journalism and charity.

“I’ve worked in journalism since I left school in 1978 and joined my local newspaper, and have been lucky to have been on breakfast TV for 36 years,” she said.

“It’s a job I never take for granted and that I dearly love. I’ve met some truly inspirational people and I learn something new every day.”

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Achara captained Scotland at the 2018 Commonwealth Games

Former Great Britain captain Kieron Achara is made an MBE for services to community sport in Scotland, having retired from basketball in 2019.

Earlier this year he was recognised among the great feats and personalities from Scottish sporting history and as a champion of diversity.

Eve Muirhead also becomes an MBE for services to curling. The 30-year-old, a former junior and senior world champion, skipped her team to Olympic bronze in Sochi in 2014.

“I’ve been curling for the majority of my life and I’ve put a lot of time and effort into getting where I am today in the sport,” she said. “Although I’m very modest about these things it is definitely very nice to be recognised.”

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Eve Muirhead becomes an MBE for services to curling

The honours system

Commonly awarded ranks:

  • Companion of Honour – Limited to 65 people. Recipients wear the initials CH after their name
  • Knight or Dame
  • CBE – Commander of the Order of the British Empire
  • OBE – Officer of the Order of the British Empire
  • MBE – Member of the Order of the British Empire
  • BEM – British Empire Medal

Citizens recognised in the non-Covid section of the honours list include Prof Muffy Calder, vice principal and head of the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Glasgow, who is made a dame for services to research and education.

Prof David John Webb, Christison chairman of therapeutics and clinical pharmacology at the University of Edinburgh, is made a CBE for services to clinical pharmacology research and education.

Ian Beattie, chairman of Scottish Athletics, is made an MBE for services to the sport, while the Scottish Parliament’s mace bearer Philip Horwood is also made an MBE.

Donald Runicles, former conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra is knighted.



BBC News