Road sweeper among stars

Kate Winslet.  Photo / Matt Sayles
Kate Winslet. Photo / Matt Sayles

Take That star Gary Barlow, actors Kate Winslet and Kenneth Branagh and the designer of the Duchess of Cambridge's wedding dress were recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours yesterday.

Branagh's knighthood left his heart "fit to burst", while Winslet said her CBE made her "very proud to be a Brit".

The list, which sees the revival of the "working-class gong", showcases the best of British talent, with awards also going to actresses Jenny Agutter and Amanda Redman and chart-topping choirmaster Gareth Malone. Sporting stars are not forgotten, with gongs for golf world number one Luke Donald as well as former Wales rugby international Shane Williams and former England goalkeeper David James.

The 2012 birthday honours list sees the reintroduction of "working-class gong" the British Empire Medal (BEM), revived by David Cameron in a reversal of John Major's decision to scrap it in 1991.

Its return has allowed the honours system to step up its recognition of "hands-on" service to local communities and the Big Society, the head of the Civil Service said.

Nearly 300 people are given BEMs, including road sweeper Anthony Cleland, 62, for services to his community after 25 years cleaning the streets of Lambeth, London.

The grandfather-of-three from Stockwell said: "I am very proud and I think it's great that the BEM has been brought back, it shows that ordinary people deserve to be recognised as well."

Barlow's OBE for services to the entertainment industry and to charity came days after he masterminded the triumphant diamond jubilee concert for Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace.

Oscar-winning actress Winslet, 36, who achieved worldwide fame for her role in the 1997 blockbuster, Titanic, received a CBE for services to drama.

Sarah Burton, who designed the Duchess of Cambridge's striking gown for the royal wedding last year, gets an OBE for services to the fashion industry.

-AAP

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