Councillor and academics receive Queen's Birthday Honours
A MAN who is thought to be Britain's first councillor and deputy mayor with learning difficulties has been made an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours.
Gavin Harding, 39, of Ebor Court, Selby, was diagnosed as having a form of cerebral palsy resulting in learning disabilities after a very difficult birth, but that didn't prevent him first becoming a Selby town councillor in 2011 and then recently the town's deputy mayor.
The former Brayton High School and Selby College student said today he was 'pleased and honoured' to accept his MBE on behalf of everyone with learning difficulties.
He said he had been one of the first pupils in the country to enter a Special Educational Needs unit within a secondary school, attending mainstream lessons, and then at Selby College he was the first person with learning difficulties to become Vice President of the Students Union.
Meanwhile, a Bridlington couple who have fostered hundreds of children over the past 42 years also receive MBEs.
Victor and Mirian Bennett have dedicated their lives to the children, hoping to make a difference for them, catering for their individual needs and being sympathetic to their problems.
Two senior members of staff at the University of York are also honoured.
Professor Hilary Graham, a professor of health sciences, receives the CBE for services to public health research.
Prof Graham, 63, of Clifton, said she regarded the award as an honour for the university, where she started out as a BA student of sociology in 1968 and went on to study for an MA and PhD, and to which she returned in 2005 after spells at Bradford, Coventry and Warwick universities.
She said a focus of her research had been the impact of social inequalities on the health and behaviour of young mothers, in particular smoking during pregnancy.
Dr Jane Grenville, an archaeologist who is deputy vice chancellor and pro-vice chancellor for students at the university, receives the OBE for services to higher education.
Scarborough-born folk musician Eliza Carthy, a multiple winner of the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards who has performed and recorded with superstars such as Paul Weller, Rufus and Martha Wainwright, and Joan Baez, receives the MBE for services to folk music.
Neil McLean of Harrogate, who chairs the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, receives the CBE for services to business and skills, while Lesley Batchelor, of York, who is director general of the Institute of Export, receives the OBE for services to business.
Alan Yellup, of Selby, who is executive headteacher of Wakefield City Academy and chief executive officer of Wakefield City Academies Trust, receives the OBE for services to education.
Dr Kumarendra Das, a specialist at Friarage Hospital in Northallerton, receives the MBE for services to trauma and orthopaedic surgery, while Elizabeth Smith from York, who is an early years teacher at the Forest School, Knaresborough, is given the award for services to education.
British Empire Medals (BEMs) go to Ann Clarke for services to the communities in Grewelthorpe and Ripon, Paul Darley for services to the community in Knaresborough and Rose Lord for charitable services in Harrogate.
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