Holocaust survivor and Olympic athletes in New Year's Honours

  • Date

    Fri 7 Jan 22

Frank Bright MBE

An inspirational Holocaust survivor, Olympic Gold winning athletes, business leaders and a COVID-19 fighting scientists linked to the University of Essex have been recognised in the Queen’s New Year Honours.

Holocaust survivor and Olympic athletes in New Year's Honours

Legal and General Group CEO Nigel Wilson received a knighthood. Sir Nigel, who studied economics at Essex, was recognised for services to the financial industry and regional development.

Others honoured included Obum Ekeke, a member of University Council – the University’s executive governing body – who received an OBE for services to Computing and Artificial Intelligence Education, and to Championing Diversity and Inclusion in the Technology Sector.

He has spent more than two decades supporting students across the world to develop the critical skills they need to thrive in the rapidly changing world.

He now leads educational programmes and partnerships at DeepMind and is also a trustee of UK Youth - a leading national charity committed to ensuring all young people are empowered to build bright futures, regardless of their background or circumstances.

How our community was honoured

Frank Bright -

Holocaust survivor Frank Bright has been honoured for his role in educating young people about the horrors of genocide. He received an MBE for services to Holocaust education.

Mr Bright survived the Auschwitz concentration camp where he was sent aged 16 with his parents. Neither survived.

Mr Bright is a patron of the University of Essex’s Dora Love Prize which is given to the best Holocaust awareness project by an individual pupil or group of pupils at a school in Essex or Suffolk – primary, secondary or sixth-form college.

The prize is named after Dora Love, a holocaust survivor who spent much of her life raising awareness that the attitudes which made the Holocaust possible – intolerance, discrimination and outright hatred of those who are regarded as ‘different' for whatever reason, are still alive all around us.

Professor Rainer Schulze, Emeritus Professor of History at Essex, said: “His rapport with the students amazes me every time.

“Students of all ages, but none more than the younger ones absolutely adore Frank.

“They might not always understand every detail of what he is telling them, but they sense that they are together with a man who has lived through unimaginable horror; who lost his parents in the concentration camp; who lost his youth and almost everything that had constituted his identity, who had to start completely afresh when he came to this country – and yet there was one thing he never lost his humanity and his empathy.”

Laura Kenny -

Laura Kenny received an honorary degree from the University of Essex in 2013 and has now received a Damehood for services to cycling.

The most successful female cyclist and most successful female athlete in Olympic history she secured five gold medals and one silver for Team GB.

British Olympic Association chief executive Andy Anson – who also received an OBE for services to sport – said: “I would like to congratulate the fantastic Olympians who have received a New Year’s Honour – you made the nation proud in Tokyo, and are incredibly deserving of your award.”

Max Whitlock -

Great Britain’s most successful male gymnast Max Whitlock received an honorary degree from the University of Essex in 2019 and has been given an OBE in the New Year’s Honours for services to his sport.

The six-time medallist won his last Gold at the Tokyo games and trains a stone’s throw from the University’s Southend Campus in nearby Basildon.

Max said: “Truly honoured to be awarded an OBE. I love what I do so to be recognised in this way is unreal.

“I’m really looking forward to launching some exciting projects that can hopefully keep the sport building momentum and encouraging children to get involved.”

Shalini Khemka -

Graduate Shalini Khemka has received a CBE for services to entrepreneurship after setting up a mentoring scheme that now boasts 23,000 budding future business leaders among its ranks.

She graduated from the University with a BA in Economics in 1995.

Shalini said she was “totally overwhelmed” and “delighted” to receive the honour in recognition of the E2E networking scheme she set up a decade ago and hoped it was a sign of how vital entrepreneurs are to the future growth of the UK economy.

The businesswoman follows in the footsteps of her mother Dame Asha Khemka, who was made a Dame in 2014 for her work in the education sector – the first Indian-born woman to receive one.

Shalini said: “I was born in India and came here when I was five years old.

“If you’d asked me when I was young would I have had a CBE in the UK, it never occurred to me that I could even hope to achieve something like this, so I want to encourage young people that there is a huge amount of opportunity and if you really work hard, this country can allow you to thrive.”

Lucy Fletcher -

Graduate Lucy Fletcher has been appointed MBE for services to Clinical Trials for her work over the pandemic.

She studied for a degree in Biological Sciences at the University of Essex and graduated in 2005.

She worked with the national RECOVERY trial which aims to identify treatments for people hospitalised with confirmed COVID-19.

Lucy said: “It is a privilege to receive this honour for services to Clinical Trials. My recent involvement in the management of the RECOVERY trial of treatments for COVID-19 has been an extraordinary and hugely rewarding experience.

“I am delighted to have had the opportunity to contribute to what has been such an important and impactful collaboration.

“I feel very fortunate to work with many incredibly dedicated and supportive colleagues and although I am extremely grateful to receive this personal recognition, it is undoubtedly a reflection of the efforts of our entire team.”

Emma Redding -

Professor Emma Redding received an MBE for her services to Dance.

The ground-breaking academic studied for her Masters in Sports Science at the University of Essex and has gone on to pioneer the emergent field of dance science.

She is a founding member partner of the National Institute for Dance Medicine and Science and Past President of the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science.

Professor Redding is currently head of dance science at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.

Professor Redding said she was “humbled and delighted” and added: “Dance Science is a collaborative endeavour, and this award is shared by all the dedicated individuals who have contributed to the field.”

Martin Palmer -

Psychology graduate Martin Palmer received a British Empire Medal for voluntary and charitable services to injured children and their families.

The manager of the Children's Burns Club, Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford, has been with the charity for 25 years.

The club supports children with burn injuries who may need long term treatment including skin grafts or repeated surgery and Martin has been a part of it since 1996 when he started as a volunteer.

He said: “It’s really humbling to receive this award and get such recognition, but really this is something for the whole Club and team of dedicated volunteers to be proud of.

“We have all made such a continued difference to the lives of children and their families who are part of the Children’s Burns Club.

“It’s like being part of one big family, and currently, we support over 250 families across Essex and the London and South East area. Together, we help make things better for families impacted by a child’s burn injury, as for many families it can be a traumatic experience."