Birthday to remember! Queen honours five of Greater Manchester’s shining stars

The Queen’s birthday honours list includes five local shining stars for their hard work and contributions in Greater Manchester.

They will be stood side by side with the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch, Van Morrison and Lenny Henry who were also honoured by Her Majesty.

Catherine Raye Johnson, 77 from Urmston, Greater Manchester, the founder of ‘Albert Kennedy Trust’ (AKT) which provides services to Homeless Young Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered People.

Mrs Johnson Founded the Albert Kennedy Trust in 1989 and has broken new ground for LGBT people nationally, changed the lives of thousands of vulnerable young people and brought the issues facing homeless LGBT youth to prominence.

She was first involved with ‘Gay Youth Manchester’ and then set up ‘Manchester Parent’s Group’ which supports parents of LGBT children to build positive family relationships.

Despite negative publicity and opposition, she gave hours of her own time organising and making AKT a reality.

She organised the first placements and dedicated enormous efforts to promoting the organisations work and raising funds.

From its early days with just a few volunteers, the trust has recently celebrated 25 years of hard work and progress on these issues.

Mrs Johnson served as a trustee of the charity for ten years, and her involvement continues in the role of founder Patron as she advises the Chief Executive and supports many AKT events.

Another recipient was Gregory Hawkins, 51, of Urmston,  has spent almost three decades to successfully developing the sport of rugby at grass roots through schools, universities and clubs in his local community of Urmston.

Being brought into the sport at a young age, he became acutely aware of the impact of how sport can influence positive character development.

He noticed the decline in sport participation many years ago; he was determined to change this.

Mr Hawkins visited schools and universities long before others realised its impact; and offered free rugby coaching to get more youths active.

From a handful of kids, he established a mini and junior section in the early 1990s at Trafford MV Rugby Club, which has now grown to over 300 junior members supported by in excess of 50 volunteers.

In 2012 he was named as a Daily Main RBS Real Rugby Hero in recognition of his voluntary work at Trafford’s MV Club.

Angela Jean Lawrence, 50, from Strefford, Greater Manchester is the Founder and Executive Director of ‘Manchester Active Voices’.

She’s been chosen to stand before the Queen for her services to tackling Gang and Youth Violence.

Following an escalation in gun crime in Manchester in the 1990’s Ms Lawrence helped set up ‘Mothers Against Violence’ in.

Mothers Against Violence is a voluntary organisation which provides mentoring, counselling and rehabilitative support to young people and families affected by gun crime.

In 2009, she took her personal commitment further and founded ‘Manchester Active Voices’ to engage and empower young people, particularly vulnerable young women in order to help them become positive members of their community.

Ms Lawrence also developed a programme of work in partnership with the Manchester City South Housing Trust to support young people aged 18-24 living within housing estates i to increase their employability skills.

Dr Erinma Eke Ochu, 42 from Greater Manchester has been honoured for his services to Public Engagement in Science, Engineering and Technology.

An example of Dr Ochu’s remarkable impact includes the skilling ad confidence building of refugees and asylum seekers from migrant communities in the North West, where she wrote scripts and made short films telling their different stories.

She enabled their films to be recognised and valued by being shown at the Exodus Shorts Refugee Film festival.

Since 2008, she’s been the leader of two major culture change projects in universities within the North West with local and national impact.

In both cases she catalysed strong mutual partnerships between staff, students and local communities which have made a difference to people’s lives.

From 2008-2012, she was the creative director of the Manchester Beacon for Public Engagement, bringing together Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority Community leaders  from deprived areas of Manchester to develop their leadership potential and make a difference in their communities.

Local Community is the heart of many people who need it most, Mr Ian Roderick MacNeill, 64 from Worsley, Greater Manchester has immersed himself in many fundraising activities.

He helped Pendlebury Children’s Hospital raise £1m for a scanner whilst he served on the appeals committee.

Mr MacNeill helped organise events such as a bus pull, a 24 hour snooker and darts competitions, sponsored walks, bike rides, fancy dress evenings and many car boot sales.

He raised a staggering £8,000 for the children of Chernobyl by having a snooker, darts and quiz night at his home.

Mr MacNeill has been a scout leader for 22 years, during which he selflessly utilised his time to build the group into one of the strongest and largest in the district.

The group raised approximately £5,000 for the 22nd Farnsworth Scout Group to  buy new camping equipment an also donates £400 a year to the local church from fundraising activities.

He was appointed a Magistrate in 2000 and sits on the Adult and Youth Panels in Manchester and Salford.

Among the local celebrities and sports stars to receive honours are Lancashire County Cricket Club and England cricketer James Anderson who receives an OBE for his services to the sport and Dr Marie Balshaw, the director of the Whitworth Art Gallery who has been given a CBE.

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