Volunteers, business leaders and inspirational public sector workers from around East Lancashire have been recognised in this year's King’s Birthday Honours list.

A number of people whoo have dedicated their lives to the environment, NHS and public service have been named on the list.

Wayne Wild, chair of the Darwen Town Deal and chair and trustee of Blackburn and Darwen Youth Zone has been awarded an MBE for services to young people and to the community in Darwen.

In 2005, he joined WEC, a small engineering firm located in the town. As the commercial director, he was instrumental in increasing the company's profits. 

By the time he left in December 2020, he had led both organic and acquisition growth, taking the company's sales from £10 million in sales and 135 staff to an impressive £100m in sales and a workforce of 1,000. 

Now WEC is a national group of 19 companies.

Wayne said: “I feel proud to be nominated and awarded. I am very thankful for the recognition.

“I would like dedicate the honour to my family, the senior leader team at the Blackburn and Darwen Youth Zones and members of the Darwen Town board.”

Blackburn’s Saima Ashraf was recognised for services for policing and awarded an MBE.

Saima Ashraf, is a senior auditor at Merseyside Police and has been breaking down stereotypes of what a visually impaired person can do.

Saima said: “I am extremely honoured to receive the recognition for my work with Merseyside Police.

“I have always worked in the community empowering those with disabilities and always thought if I ever received such an award it would be for this. So, receiving it for my service to policing means so much more."

There was an MBE for Susan Ashby, of Rossendale, who is chair and trustee of Stepping Stone Projects. 

She was recognised for her services to homeless and vulnerable people in Rochdale.

She has been the Chair of Stepping Stone Projects (SSP) for 24 years; a North-West charity, formed in 1984, to provide accommodation and supported housing to homeless and vulnerable people. 

Jo Fitzgerald, Clitheroe, is a senior programme manager for NHS England and was awarded an MBE for services to the NHS.

She has dedicated 30 years to improving services for disabled people and people with long-term conditions as a mother, carer, volunteer, activist and more latterly in a policy transformation role in NHS England, after her son, Mitchell, was born with a profound disability and complex health needs. 

Jo said: “It takes a little while to get your head around it and I am delighted and humbled, like so many people when they hear the news.

“I would like to dedicate the award to my son, Mitchell. He has been an inspiration to so many people and to us.

“Through what we have achieved I feel we have given people hope.”

More than 200,000 people have now benefited in part due to pioneering work through her leadership. 

Burnley’s Nigel Lund, lately the North West Prevent coordinator for the Department for Education was awarded an MBE for services to education and to policing.

He held the role at the time of the Manchester Arena bombing, and he not only supported the affected institutions through the aftermath but he also recognised a need for a more consistent approach to responding to similar tragic circumstances. 

The insights that he prepared following the attack have been important in the development of the Government's response planning if a terrorist attack affects education settings, staff or students. 

His work has also been a great assistance in the government’s engagement with the development of Martyn’s Law. 

Blackburn’s Shiraz Master is the founder and managing director of Simply Doughnuts, and he has been awarded an MBE for services to the promotion of food and drink, to business and to philanthropy.

Volunteer Frederick Higham, 84, was recognised for services to protecting and improving the Ribble Catchment.

Frederick Higham, 84, has carried out decades of continuous voluntary work on the River Ribble catchment area and the impacts of his passion will be felt for decades to come.

He said: “It came as a complete surprise to be honest.

“I thought it was some sort of joke when I told. It is great to honoured and I must say I am slightly embarrassed.”

Frederick plays a lead role in a variety of groups dedicated to protecting the Ribble. He has been Pollution Control Officer at the Ribble Fisheries Consultative Association for over 35 years, Chair of the Ribblesdale Anglers for 32 years and an influential member of the Ribble Rivers Trust for 25 years, each role covering a range of environmental issues. 

Denise Harrison, the head of health and safety at First Buses and was honoured with an MBE for services to the bus industry.

She has been an ambassador in the bus industry during her 39-year career.  She started work in the canteen, then at 18 became one of only six female drivers in the company. 

Her passion is health and safety, in which capacity she has served at First Bus for 18 years, initially as a depot safety responsible person, through to her current role as the company's national health and safety boss.

In January 2023 she launched an initiative to recognise individuals in First who go the extra mile every day.

Burty Bus is a soft toy posted to such people, designed as a conversation starter particularly to encourage men to open up and talk about their mental health.

There was an OBE for John Heffernan who is managing director of Nelson-based Fern Innovation Limited. He was honoured for services to business and technology.

There were British Empire Medals (BEM) for Lee Duerden and also for Michael Gauntlett for services to the community in Pendle.

For nearly 50 years Michael has supported a variety of local and high-profile charitable causes. 

He volunteered with the Samaritans for 34 years, from 1976 to 2010, serving in a number of key roles including local branch director, regional representative, national executive member and director of external relations. 

He was also heavily involved in the creation of The Samaritans Ambassadors Network to help with raising funds and awareness. 

Since his retirement from paid employment, he has given much of his time to the Pendle New Neighbours (PNN) community group.

He is part of a network of volunteers offering support to two groups of Syrian refugee families and 134 houses hosting asylum seekers in Pendle.