London: The British policeman killed while defending parliament during a terror attack was on Saturday honoured by Queen Elizabeth II, alongside Paul McCartney, “Harry Potter” author J. K. Rowling and Hollywood icon Olivia de Havilland.
Keith Palmer, a 48-year-old husband and father stabbed to death after confronting assailant Khalid Masood following his rampage on Westminster Bridge on March 22, received a posthumous George Medal for bravery in the monarch’s annual birthday honours list.
“Keith acted that day with no thought for his own safety, intent simply on doing his job… He paid the ultimate price for his selfless actions,” said London police chief Cressida Dick.
Among the other recipients of honours were singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran; a pensioner who tried to save murdered lawmaker Jo Cox; and the last surviving crew member of the World War II Dambuster raids.
– Arise, Big Yin –
Beatles star McCartney and Rowling were made Companions of Honour, an award for making a major contribution to the arts, science, medicine, or government, and of whom there can only be 65 recipients at any one time.
CHs were also awarded to designer and restauranteur Terence Conran; conductor Mark Elder, cookery writer Delia Smith, ballerina Beryl Grey — the first English ballerina to guest with the Kirov and Bolshoi ballets — and John Sulston, who won the 2002 Nobel Medicine Prize for his gene research.
De Havilland, regarded as the last great star of Hollywood’s golden age and the oldest living Oscar winner, was made a Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (DBE) — the female equivalent of a knighthood.
The 100-year-old US star, who was born to British parents, starred in the 1939 classic “Gone With The Wind” alongside Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh.
Sheeran, whose latest record “Divide” is the fastest-selling album by a male artist ever in Britain, was made an MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) , as was fellow singer-songwriter Emeli Sande.
Veteran Scottish comedian Billy Connolly, nicknamed the “Big Yin”, was made a knight bachelor (KB) for services to entertainment.
Leonard Blavatnik, the richest single man in Britain, was also made a KB for his philanthropy.
Oscar-nominated actress Julie Walters and “Absolutely Fabulous” comedy actress June Whitfield were made DBEs.
There were CBEs (Commander of the British Empire) for illustrator Raymond Briggs, whose 1978 story “The Snowman” remains a Christmas favourite, and for former special forces soldier turned “Bravo Two Zero” author Andy McNab, for his recent services to spreading adult literacy.
– Nairobi attack hero –
Britain’s last surviving Dambuster, 95-year-old George “Johnny” Johnson, received the MBE after 235,000 people signed a petition calling for his wartime service to be recognised.
The bomb aimer was part of an air force squadron which conducted crucial bombing raids on dams in a bid to damage Nazi Germany’s industrial heartland.
“It is amazing the people have taken so much interest. I have to say I feel honoured that they took that trouble,” he said.
In the gallantry awards, retired major Dominic Troulan received the George Cross for helping to save around 200 people during the Westgate Mall terror siege in Nairobi in 2013.
The GC is Britain’s highest honour for gallantry not in the face of the enemy and he is the first civilian recipient in 41 years.
The 54-year-old Troulan, who carried hostages, including a baby, out of the mall in 12 separate trips, described it as “one of the hardest six hours of my life”.
Though “overawed” by the honour, he said he had “never really got over” the “absolute carnage” he saw.
Bernard Kenny, a 78-year-old miner who was stabbed as he tried to stop the murder of Jo Cox last June, received the George Medal. He said he was “honoured” to receive the award.
Allen Pembroke and Paul Short received the Queen’s Gallantry Medal for aiding victims of the Sousse beach terror attack in Tunisia in 2015.
In total, 1,109 people received awards, three-quarters of whom undertook outstanding work in their communities. AFP / SAMAA
Story first published: 17th June 2017