Veteran angler lands himself an MBE in New Year’s Honours

Sam Harris who has been awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours List. Picture by FRANK REID
Sam Harris who has been awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours List. Picture by FRANK REID

A VETERAN angler has landed his biggest catch yet after being awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List.

Sam Harris said he thought it was a wind-up when he received a letter telling him he had been recognised by The Queen six weeks ago.

Sam, who celebrated his 82nd birthday last week, had been sworn to secrecy since then until the list is officially revealed.

But now he is looking forward to a trip to Buckingham Palace to pick up his honour, which has been awarded in recognition of his services to recreational sea angling.

Widower Sam, who lives in Old Shotton, said: “It has been a long six weeks since I got the letter.

“I thought somebody was playing a joke on me when I read it, but I’m absolutely chuffed to bits to be recognised in this way.

“It is all down to the whole of the North East angling circuit that I will pick up this honour, so I’m ever so grateful.

“From what I can gather there were quite a few nominations for me, and it is nice to be recognised in this way.”

Sam, who started angling when he was just seven years old, will find out soon when he is travelling to the capital for his Royal date.

He added: “I’m told it can be any time in the next seven months, so it’s just a case of waiting for the next letter now.

“I’m hoping it will be The Queen that does the investiture, though I’m a big fan of Prince Charles too so I won’t be too fussy.”

Other recipients of the MBE are Alma Murray, from Billingham, who is vice president of the North Yorkshire Royal British Legion Women’s Section.

She has been honoured for voluntary service to service personnel and veterans.

Since retiring from full-time employment, the 78-year-old has become a full-time RBL worker, tirelessly dedicating all of her time to the charity, and giving herself also to her local church where she is a lay preacher and organiser.

Peterlee man George Ritchie, formerly senior vice president for Sembcorp UK, has been given the same honour for services to apprenticeships in the chemical and process industries.

Other people to receive honours include Steve Cram who has seen his MBE ‘upgraded’ to an Order of the British Empire (OBE).

The former world champion 1500 metre runner and Olympian received the award for his service to sport as the recent chairman of the English Institute for Sport.

Hillsborough campaigner Margaret Aspinall, whose son James, 18, was killed in the tragedy, received a CBE for services to the families of the 96 Liverpool fans who died in the disaster.

Mrs Aspinall, along with Trevor Hicks, president of the group, were the driving force in a decades-long legal battle ending with the quashing of earlier inquest verdicts and the holding of the currently on-going new inquests.

Designer Mary Quant, widely credited with popularising the mini skirt, has been made a Dame.

The 80-year-old is given the honour for services to British fashion.

Veteran actress Joan Collins is also is made a dame and said the recognition for her decades of charity work was “humbling”.

The 81-year-old actress, a devoted monarchist, said she was “deeply honoured”.

Television presenter and campaigner Esther Rantzen also becomes a Dame - receiving the honour for her work with children and older people, having established telephone helplines for both children in distress or danger and older people experiencing isolation.