Bonham Carter and golf prodigy McIlroy lead British honours

31st December 2011, Comments 0 comments

Oscar-nominated actress Helena Bonham Carter and golf prodigy Rory McIlroy led the list of recipients of Britain's New Year's honours on Saturday.

Bonham Carter received a CBE, or Commander of the Order of the British Empire award -- one step below a knighthood -- after the most successful year of her career, capped by her performance in "The King's Speech", the hit film about the stammering king George VI.

She dedicated the honour to her father, who spent the last years of his life severely disabled after an operation to remove a brain tumour went wrong, and joked that it could lead to changes at home.

"I am wondering, does it mean I get to command? Because at the moment it's my four-year-old daughter who does the commanding in our household. Must inform her of the change in situation," she said.

McIlroy, who this year became the youngest US Open champion for 88 years at the age of 22, became an MBE, or Member of the Order of the British Empire.

"Many people on the honours list have made huge personal sacrifices and contributed significantly to society during their lives," McIlroy said. "I feel very fortunate to be in their company."

He is joined by fellow Northern Irish golfer Darren Clarke, who was a popular winner of the British Open in 2011, five years after his wife died of breast cancer. He was awarded an OBE, the officer rank which comes between the MBE and the upper CBE.

As Britain prepares to welcome the Olympics to London in 2012, there is a strong sporting flavour to the honours list.

Nigel Mansell, who won the Formula One motor racing world crown in 1992, gets a CBE for his charity work helping children and young people.

Veteran cricket umpire Dickie Bird was given an OBE, while there was an MBE for Scottish rugby union player Chris Paterson -- who retired from the game in 2011 after winning a record 109 caps for his country.

Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, the Russian-born 2010 Nobel Prize-winning professors of physics at the University of Manchester in northwest England, were awarded knighthoods.

From the world of showbusiness, veteran comedian Ronnie Corbett, the surviving half of "The Two Ronnies", receives a CBE for services to entertainment and charity.

Clive James, the Australian-born author, broadcaster and critic, was also awarded a CBE.

In the year that Apple founder Steve Jobs died, the company's British-born designer Jonathan Ive was knighted with a KBE (Knight Commander, Order of the British Empire) for his work in shaping the look of the iMac, the iPod and the iPhone.

Two big names behind television formats that have spread around the world -- Peter Bazalgette of Endemol, the company behind "Big Brother", and Paul Smith, of "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" creator Celador -- also won honours.

Criminal convictions generally exclude people from receiving gongs.

However, Gerald Ronson, 72, the man who brought self-service petrol stations to Britain in the 1960s, was awarded a CBE for services to charity despite being convicted for his role in the Guinness affair over 20 years ago.

Ronson, the uncle of music producer Mark Ronson, was convicted in 1990 for his involvement in the share-trading scandal. He served six months of a one-year jail sentence, but bounced back to become a property tycoon.

Alex Crawford, the Sky News television reporter who achieved fame by reporting from the war-torn streets of Libya in 2011, said she was surprised to have been awarded an OBE.

"I am staggered and honoured and can't quite believe this is not a prank thought up by one of my more mischievous colleagues," she said.

Honours lists are produced twice a year, at New Year and to coincide with Queen Elizabeth II's official birthday in June.

Most recipients are not celebrities, but people who have given their time for charity work or helping their local communities. Anyone can nominate someone for an award.

© 2011 AFP

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