Professor Rupert Pearse at Queen Mary University of London was awarded an OBE in recognition of his outstanding services to intensive care medicine
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The King’s New Year Honours List 2024 in Tower Hamlets

Advocating for equal education and delivering life-saving medical care at the Royal London Hospital are just some of the services that our community have been recognised for in the 2024 New Year Honours List. 

Every year, the New Year Honours List recognizes the extraordinary achievements of people from across the UK. This year’s list was the second to be signed off by King Charles III, and totals 1,227 individuals from all walks of life. 

Most honours are awarded on the advice of the Cabinet Office, and anybody can make a recommendation if they know someone they believe to be worthy. Honours recipients are announced twice a year, once on the New Years Honours List, and once on the Monarch’s official birthday. 

The decision about who gets an honour is made by a special committee, whose recommendations go to the Prime Minister, and then, finally, to the monarch to be checked. Recipients must then accept the honour before attending an investiture ceremony where they are officially recognised as a Commander, Officer, or Member of the British Empire, or awarded a British Empire Medal (CBE, OBE, MBE, BEM). 

Last year, Bow resident Rachel Kessler was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in recognition of her humanitarian work in Ukraine, while the former head of Children’s House Nursery School in Bow, Christine Lewis was made a Member of the British Empire (MBE) for her services to education. 

This year, the New Year Honours List pays homage to a range of individuals in Tower Hamlets who have pioneered progress in their respective industries, from teaching and healthcare to innovative scientific research. 

Vanessa Ogden

Vanessa Ogden, the chief executive of Mulberry Schools Trust, was appointed Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) for her contributions towards education. 

The Mulberry Schools Trust is a seven-school trust based in London, founded by Mulberry School for Girls on 1st May 2017. The trust is a flourishing collaboration of schools focused on delivering high-quality education for local families in Tower Hamlets and East London.

Ogden is also the chair of the Fair Education Alliance, a powerful coalition of more than 250 organisations dedicated to tackling educational inequality. Through collective action, the coalition urges politicians and policymakers to end the de-prioritisation of education and to reduce the growing gaps between disadvantaged students and their wealthier peers. 

As chief executive of Mulberry Schools Trust and chair of the Fair Education Alliance, Ogden has dedicated her career to expanding access to quality education for all young people, regardless of their socio-economic background. Under the leadership of Ogden, state school students from across Tower Hamlets have gained access to an enriching, creative and dynamic education, broadening their horizons for the future.

Dr Fenella Wrigley 

Dr Fenella Wrigley has been awarded an MBE for her exceptional services to the NHS. As an A&E consultant at The Royal London Hospital and Chief Medical Officer for the London Ambulance Service, Wrigley has devoted her life to taking care of Londoners in desperate need of emergency attention.

Since graduating from St George’s University Medical School in 1996, Wrigley has played a central role in countless major incidents across London. She was one of the first healthcare professionals on the scene after the 7/7 bombings and delivered strategic clinical leadership following the Grenfell Tower fire and several terrorist incidents in 2017. On receiving the award, Wrigley said:

‘I am truly honoured and humbled to have been awarded an MBE for services to the NHS. But, as with every achievement and success in the NHS, this has only been made possible because of the teams I work with.

‘I am very proud to be a doctor, and to know that – with teamwork – we can provide fantastic care to people when they need us most. I would like to say thank you to my colleagues at London Ambulance Service and at The Royal London for all that we achieve together.’

Ruth Miskin

Ruth Miskin, former head teacher of the Kobi Nazrul School in Whitechapel, has been appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for her trailblazing services to education.

Earlier in her career as a reception teacher, Miskin always felt a huge responsibility to teach children how to read. She noticed that several children were struggling with conventional teaching methods, and felt a duty to not give up on them. Every time she failed to successfully teach the skill, Miskin became motivated to find a method that would work for every child, regardless of their background or ability. 

Over the next few years, Miskin experimented with different strategies for teaching reading in various schools, working hard to research and trial the most effective methods. 

As a head teacher in Tower Hamlets, Miskin was able to put her research into practice and eventually she launched Read Write Inc, a synthetic phonics program that ensures early success in reading, writing and spelling. 

Fast forward to 2024, and Miskin has emerged as one of the UK’s leading experts on early literacy. Over 7000 schools across the world have adopted her phonics program. Since 1997, successive UK governments have drawn on Miskin’s pioneering research into literacy, utilising her world-class expertise to support children across the country in their formative years of education.

Miskin’s honour acknowledges her unwavering dedication to providing high-quality education for every child, ensuring an equal foundation for all as they embark on their journey in the world.

Professor Rupert Pearse

Professor Rupert Pearse has been awarded an OBE in recognition of his services to intensive care medicine. In 2006, Pearse joined Queen Mary University of London as a senior lecturer in intensive care medicine and went on to become a professor in 2014. As well as being a committed teacher, Pearse is a pioneering scientific researcher. He has been Director of Clinical Research at Barts Health and Queen Mary for the past seven years, with a focus on improving patient outcomes following major surgeries. 

Pearse is an intensive care consultant at The Royal London Hospital and is overseeing the development of a Clinical Research Facility that will make it easier for East Londoners to take part in clinical trials of novel treatments. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when every one of us relied on the resilience of frontline NHS workers, Pearse played a major role at the Royal London Hospital by leading the team taking care of patients with critical illnesses.

On receiving the OBE, Pearse said:

‘It’s a wonderful honour to be nominated for this award. Intensive medicine is at the sharp end of NHS services and we were truly put to the test during the pandemic. I see this as recognition for the amazing teams at Barts Health and QMUL who gave their all in the most difficult of circumstances.’

If you enjoyed reading this piece, you might like ‘We’re there to hold the parents not the babies’: The postpartum depression survivor offering a lifeline to new parents in Tower Hamlets.

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