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Newcastle alumni recognised in King’s Birthday Honours

We are proud to announce twelve Newcastle University graduates have been named in King Charles III’s Birthday Honours list, acknowledging their dedication and success in their respective fields. Congratulations all!

4 July 2024

Twelve Newcastle University graduates have been named in King Charles III’s Birthday Honours list, acknowledging their dedication and success in their respective fields. Congratulations all!

Esther Britten MBE (History BA, 2002) 

Esther Britten is UK Sport’s head of major events. This recognition highlights the significant contributions Esther has made to the UK's sporting system over the past 15 years, particularly in major events.

She has been instrumental in the bidding and staging of most of the major one-off international sporting events hosted in the UK over the last decade. These events have enriched local communities and elevated the UK's global reputation.

Dr Gordon Brown CH (Honorary degree, 2007) 

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, was awarded an Honorary Degree from Newcastle University in 2007, for the Chancellor's enormous personal contribution to tackling debt in the world's poorest nations.

Mr Brown now becomes a Companion of Honour for public and charitable services in the UK and abroad. This honour recognises significant contributions to the arts, science, medicine or government over a long period of time and is limited to just 65 people at any one time.

Brown was Chancellor of the Exchequer for ten years, from 1997-2007, before taking over as Prime Minister until 2010. Since leaving office Brown was named by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as a United Nations Special Envoy on Global Education. He also chaired the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity.

Fleur Butler OBE (History BA (Hons), 1999) 

Politician and novelist Fleur Butler is a former member of the Congress of the Council of Europe and leader of Richmondshire District Council. She is president of the National Conservative Convention and a past chairman of the Conservative Women's Organisation. 

Butler has been awarded her OBE for services to Politics and to Women. Fleur's background is in consultancy for the charity sector, before going into politics. She was the only female at that time of any party to sit on the Yorkshire Regional Leader’s Board before being selected to stand as an MEP in 2009. 

As a member of the Council of Europe she was part of the election monitoring teams in Armenia, Bulgaria, and Georgia. She still trains women in politics in countries as diverse as Indonesia and Moldova, to Mexico and The Balkans. 

Claire Cullens MBE (Politics and East Asian Studies BA (Hons), 1989) 

Claire has led the team that delivers support to Norfolk charities, engages with local people, and national and major local partners who want to give, and offers communities a platform and voice.

Claire has been awarded an MBE for services to business development and to charity. Claire’s work at NCF, based at Whitefriars in Norwich, played a crucial role during the coronavirus pandemic. The Covid-19 Community Response Fund was created to support community groups helping Norfolk people during the crisis.

Claire’s work has continued throughout the cost of living crisis, through the Nourishing Norfolk initiative which provided a network of food hubs throughout the area, as well as administering the Household Support Fund, to provide food vouchers for families and children.

Andrew Forsey OBE (Politics and History BA (Hons), 2011) 

Mr Forsey was head of Frank Field MP's office in the House of Commons between 2013 and 2019. Since 2019, Mr Forsey has been the National Director of Feeding Britain. In 2014, he served as Secretary to the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Hunger in the United Kingdom and co-ordinated the Feeding Birkenhead programme, the first of Feeding Britain’s regional partnerships. 

Andrew also played a leading role in a series of inquiries into hunger amongst children during school holidays, malnutrition amongst older people, and trends in the labour market between 2016 and 2019. He also co-drafted the School Holidays (Meals and Activities) Bill which led to the creation of the Government’s Holiday Activities and Food programme. 

Vanessa Graham MBE (Combined studies BA (Hons), 2007)

Mrs Graham has been awarded an MBE for Political and Public services. She is currently serving as the Head of Commercial for the Labour Party.


Jennifer Hartley MBE (Law (International Legal Studies), 2003) 

Jennifer Hartley (MA (LLM), International Law) is Director of Invest Newcastle at NewcastleGateshead Initiative (NGI) and has been awarded her MBE for services to Business and Trade. 

She is also Vice Chair of Ouseburn Farm Charity, a Trustee of the Newcastle Cathedral Trust Board, and a Member of the UKREiiF Advisory Group. This honour recognises her significant contribution to the growth of the UK’s economy, across emerging and strategic sectors including life sciences, creative industries, digital, corporate services and gaming – specifically in North East England. 

Jennifer has headed up the investment function at NGI since 2019 and was involved in its inception more than ten years ago. Since then, 330 businesses have been supported to relocate or expand, supporting the creation of around 16,700 jobs in Newcastle and the wider region. 

Richard Moore MBE (Agricultural Economics BA, 1978) 

Richard retired from a career in the meat industry in 2016. He was formerly joint managing director of Linden Foods, a major North Irish beef and lamb exporter, and latterly managing director of Linergy, an animal by-products and renewable energy company. He also chaired two trade bodies, the NI Meat Exporters Association and the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association. 

Richard has been awarded his MBE, for services to Equine Assisted Therapy and Learning in Northern Ireland. From an amateur interest in horses and a meeting with Temple Grandin, the prominent autism spokesperson, Richard developed a curiosity about equine assisted activities (EAA) and interventions including therapy and learning. 

He developed an interest in equine interactions and volunteers at a local RDA group.  Richard now commits time, energy and money to support the development of EAA locally. He is currently on the boards of NOW Group, a social enterprise supporting people with learning difficulties and autism, and Re-Gen Waste Ltd. 

Dr Imran Rafi MBE (MBBS, 1988)

Dr Imran Rafi, a GP in London and reader in primary care and genomics at St George's, University of London, received an MBE for services to general practice and genomics.

Dr Rafi is the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) joint clinical champion for genomics and currently sits on the college's board of trustees. He has previously been a member of the RCGP council and also chaired the college's Clinical Innovation and Research Centre from 2009 and 2019, overseeing quality improvement, research and other clinical priorities in the college.

Dr Kenneth Smith BEM (Agriculture BA, 1973) 

Dr Kenneth Smith (BSc (Hons) Agriculture (Soil Science), 1970-73), has been awarded a Medal of the Order of the British Empire (BEM) for services to the community in his home town of Dudley.

Dr Smith has transformed a disused parcel of land in Brierley Hill at the centre of his community into a thriving hub which is used regularly by locals and a variety of community groups engaged in produce growing, gardening, art and crafts, and wildlife conservation.

Dr Smith has also involved himself with various groups who use the gardens including young offenders, primary school children, and people suffering with mental health conditions, helping the groups make the best use of the space.

Family days and other events are hosted there regularly, and vegetables grown there are donated to the Black Country Food Bank. 

In addition to his work with Hawbush Gardens, he also volunteers at the Brierley Hill Project where he helps local people in practical ways by assisting them with claims for Universal Credit, writing CVs, providing testimonials, and working with the Black Country Food Bank.

Nicholas Swales DL OBE (Politics and Economy BA (Hons), 1986) 

Nick started his professional career as a private client stockbroker with Wise Speke, following this, and after gaining a CISI Diploma, he became a member of the London Stock Exchange. Nick developed his career by working for two international banks, Merrill Lynch and UBS, before becoming Regional Director of Rathbones heading up its Newcastle office. 

Nick was a member of the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment Board from 2009 to 2021 and has chaired both its Investment and Membership Committees, as well as being a Board appointee on the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment Educational Trust. Other voluntary positions currently held by Nick include being Chair of the Board at the Theatre Royal, Newcastle, as well as trustee of both the Newcastle University Retirement Benefits Fund and the University's Development Trust. 
Nick was honoured to be commissioned, Deputy Lieutenant of Tyne and Wear in 2020, and has enjoyed the charitable and civic role this allows him to undertake in his regional community. He has now been awarded with an OBE for services to the community in Tyne and Wear. 

Ian Turner OBE (Mathematics BS, 1972) 

Ian Turner studied Pure and Applied Mathematics before joining International Computers Ltd in the early 1970’s.  

In 1984, he bought a property and converted it into a Nursing Home. He has now developed this into six Homes with 270 beds, all within East Anglia, offering Nursing and Residential Care to older people, and those living with dementia. Ian has chaired the Registered Nursing Home Association for the past twenty years. He has now been awarded an OBE for services to social care. 

Humphrey Welfare OBE (Archaeology BS, 1974) 

Humphrey Welfare (BA, MPhil, Archaeology, 1969-74) is a Visiting Fellow in the School of History, Classics, and Archaeology at Newcastle University. Formerly he was Director of the Architectural and Archaeological Survey at the Royal Commission, and, after merger with English Heritage, the Director of Research Projects. 

He was been awarded an OBE for services to Heritage in the North of England as he has conducted significant research into the archaeology of Northern England and Southern Scotland, on which he has published over 40 papers. 

Congratulations all!

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