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'Colne cyclone' Steven Burke among East Lancashire New Year Honours
12:48am Saturday 29th December 2012 in News
OLYMPIC gold medal winning cyclist Steven Burke was among the East Lancashire heroes to be recognised on the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list.
The 24-year-old, who was nicknamed the ‘Colne Cyclone’, was awarded an MBE for services to cycling after excelling at the London games.
He is joined by four outstanding women from across the area who have also been recognised for their efforts, including excellence in education, community work and volunteering.
Steven was part of the 4,000m team pursuit which took gold in August, setting two world records on the way.
His grandma Mary, speaking from Colne yesterday, said she was delighted for her grandson.
She said: “I am shocked, but it is brilliant. I am very proud of him.
Pendle MP Joe Cooney said: “It is great for Steven and for Pendle.
“He has had a remarkable year, he was given the freedom of the borough and this is just the icing on the cake.
“He is still only young and he has his sights set on Rio for 2016, so who knows, maybe the best is yet to come.”
Steven followed in his mother’s footsteps to become a track cyclist, starting at the age of 14.
Also recognised was grandmother Jacqueline McGrew, chairman of the Whitebirk and Intack Tenants and Residents Association, who was awarded a British Empire Medal for her services to the community.
She was nominated by the association’s secretary after volunteering for 13 years.
The group is based at the 2000 Centre in Hereford Road where it runs an information centre, training courses, apprenticeships, savings and low-interest loan support, day trips for disadvantaged children and many more community projects.
Ms McGrew, 66, said: “When we first started the work, a lot of the houses around here were boarded up, cars were regularly being stolen, the kids had nothing to do and were causing mischief. It was all very sad.
“We’ve made a visible difference to the place.
“But you just have to do something. We do, and now it’s become automatic.”
Ms McGrew described herself as a ‘people person’ and admitted she struggled to obey the confidential nature of the Cabinet Office letter informing her of the award in November.
She said: “I was so shocked when I read it, and then I had to spend time with my family, knowing what I did and I couldn’t tell them! It was very, very difficult, but they are delighted for me.”
Also recognised was Margaret Ann Howell, head teacher of St Thomas’s Centre Pupil Referral Unit in Lambeth Street in Audley, Blackburn.
The ‘hard-working and inspirational’ head from Clitheroe was awarded an OBE for services to education.
Her unit caters for students between the ages of five and 16 who are unable to attend school because of short-term medical needs, identified mental health needs, exclusion from mainstream schools or who are pregnant teenagers or young mothers.
At St Thomas’s last Ofsted report in 2010, the only category deemed less than ‘outstanding’ or ‘good’ was that of pupils’ attendance.
Maureen Bateson, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s executive member for children’s services, said: “Margaret’s a fabulous person and a real inspiration to children.
“She’s an outstandingly hard-working and inspirational woman.
“She knows everybody in person and adults and children respond to her very well, she is highly motivating.
“I couldn’t think of somebody more deserving of such an award, if anything it’s overdue.”
Headteacher Eileen Bleasdale was also awarded an OBE for services to education.
At the helm of Laneshaw Bridge Primary School near Colne, she has guided the school to become one of the top performing primaries in the country.
The school has also consistently been rated as 'outstanding' by Ofsted inspectors, County Councillor Susie Charles, cabinet member for children and schools, said: "Eileen is an outstanding headteacher and this is a very well-deserved accolade. Her school, in a remote part of East Lancashire, is an exemplary educational establishment.
"I have visited the school on more than one occasion and the sense of enjoyment and learning there is palpable. Indeed, it is has become so popular that we have built a new larger school to accommodate all the pupils!
"I know the entire school community and everyone at the county council will join with me in offering our most sincere congratulations to Eileen."
Youth volunteer Emma Hamlen has been awarded the British Empire Medal for services to young people in Lancashire.
Miss Hamlen, from Burnley, was given the honour for her work with Lancashire’s Youth Offending Team.
The part-time volunteer was earlier this year also given a Volunteer of the Year award from Lancashire County Council after supporting a young person from Lancashire Group Intervention Panel, for troubled teenagers.
Miss Hamlen saw the young person almost every week, which included local outings to the park, even though she works full time.
She also talked with the young person's parents regularly, on the importance of school attendance.