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COVID-19 heroes celebrated in New Year’s Honours list

Written by on 30 December 2020

In the very worst of years, the very best of society are being honoured in the 2021 New Year Honours list.

In the full list of names and honours awarded, COVID-19 is mentioned 228 times.

Among the recipients are unsung heroes who have battled to save lives and keep the NHS afloat to those who have kept the country smiling by spreading kindness.

The efforts of community leader Ravi Bhanot, who is being made an MBE, have been recognised. For decades Mr Bhanot has cultivated community spirit in east London, making a particular difference in Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority communities.

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Ravi Bhanot MBE has been honoured for his work

In 2017 he identified the increasing number of heart attacks within high-risk ethnic minority groups and co-founded the first national charity that provides free Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) training to community groups in four South Asian languages.

During the pandemic Mr Bhanot used his network to co-ordinate a community response to the pandemic.

He worked with local charities to provide care parcels with essential items for the homeless and delivered meals to NHS frontline staff and the vulnerable.

More from Covid-19

Speaking to Sky News, Ravi Bhanot MBE says he felt immensely proud to be given the honour and says 2020 has revealed the best in people

“Collectively everyone’s got together and said right what can you do, can you do the delivery, buy the stuff, do the cooking, can you do the nitty gritty paper work. It has been about teamwork,” he said.

“It’s so heartwarming when you see people doing what you would’ve never seen them doing in all these years and not just people who are young, old, or really old, there are people in their 80s doing community work, it’s absolutely unbelievable.”

Public sector workers make up just under 15% of the list and include firefighters, medical professionals, teachers, police officers and local government workers.

Dr Tamas Szakmany MNE
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Dr Tamas Szakmany MBE led Wales’ critical care response

Critical care consultant Dr Tamas Szakmany, who is also being made an MBE, led the critical care response in Wales during the pandemic.

On top of his clinical duties, which saw him give one-to-one care to more than 50 patients, he helped find effective treatments for COVID-19.

But like so many in his profession, humility is his virtue.

Speaking to Sky News, he said while incredibly proud, he could not have achieved his honour without his colleagues.

“This is definitely the highest and biggest achievement I could’ve had and I again thank the team around me because without them this wouldn’t have been possible,” he said.

“Being recognised for this with an MBE is fantastic but this year is really a contrasting one and I will for sure reflect on what we can learn and what can we take forward both from the difficulties and from the successes.”

Oldham's Youth Mayor Samah Khalik
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Oldham’s youth mayor Samah Khalik was honoured

This is the most ethnically diverse honours list yet with 14% of recipients coming from a BAME background. Oldham’s youth mayor Samah Khalik is the youngest recipient.

Speaking to Sky News, she says she wants to inspire young people to help rebuild communities affected by the coronavirus: Receiving this award is kind of crazy. I think the pandemic has really given us the opportunity to go out there and help people.

“It’s really opened our eyes for those who weren’t open before, as to how much we are needed as young people to go out there and take an active role and be more community minded rather than just think of ourselves.”