THE North Yorkshire-based leader of Britain's biggest farming union today spoke of his pride after being named a Knight in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.

Ben Gill, the president of the National Farmers' Union (NFU), was awarded a knighthood for his work as NFU president.

Sir Ben, 53, farms 360 acres of land at Hawk Hills, near Easingwold, and was elected NFU president in 1998.

He said: "It is a great honour to have such an award made and something that I greatly appreciate.

"But I recognise that it has been made to me as the leader of a highly professional organisation with a back-up capability which is second to none and which is the envy and role model of many.

"Without such an organisation it would not have been possible to achieve all that we have achieved over the years."

Sir Ben received a CBE in 1996 in recognition of his services to agriculture. He is married to Carolyn and the couple have four sons. Sir Ben was among a host of York and North Yorkshire people to be recognised in this year's birthday honours list.

Brigadier Andrew Farquhar, the man who helped steer York through the floods in late 2000, was given a CBE to add to his MBE.

Stan Johnson, the owner of the Eden Camp modern history museum, near Malton, was said to be delighted after being made an MBE.

Heartbeat actor Ian Carmichael received an early birthday present when he was awarded the OBE.

The veteran actor, who is 83 next week and lives near Whitby, was recognised for services to drama.

Nationally, England soccer captain David Beckham was awarded an OBE, as was England cricketer Alec Stewart. James Bond actor Roger Moore headed the glittering roll call of show business stars recognised by the Queen with a Knighthood.

Comic Billy Connolly was given a CBE, while actress Helen Mirren becomes a dame. Naked chef Jamie Oliver scooped an MBE.

Updated: 10:09 Saturday, June 14, 2003