Marcus Rashford, Ndidi Okezie, Yvonne Conolly, Issa brothers and ‘Skipping Sikh’ among 1,495 people recognised for exceptional and outstanding service to the UK as part of the most diverse Queen’s Birthday Honours ever.

The Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2020 awards 1,495 honours to people across the whole of the UK for their outstanding contributions to UK society.

A number of honours this year are given to recognise exceptional contributions during the Covid-19 pandemic. The list showcases exceptional contributions of unsung heroes in all four nations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and is the most ethnically diverse list to date, with 13 percent of recipients from a minority ethnic background.

Philanthropist Professor Nasser David Khalili has received a Knighthood for his services to Interfaith Relations and charity, whilst founders of the EG group Zubair and Mohsin Issa, who recently made headlines for buying supermarket chain Asda in a multi-million pound deal, have received CBE’s for services to business and charity. Farmida Bi, the UK’s first female chair of a major law firm, also receives a CBE for her services to law and charity.

Footballer Marcus Rashford received an MBE for services to vulnerable children in the UK during the pandemic. Also honoured for her work with youth is UK Youth CEO Ndidi Okezie who has received her OBE for her service to young people during the peak of the pandemic. Britain’s first Black Head teacher Yvonne Conolly has received a CBE for her exceptional services to education.

Lavina Mehta and 74 year old Rajinder Singh Harzall the ‘Skipping Sikh’ received MBEs for encouraging people to stay active and mentally fit in lockdown.

Mehta provided workout sessions free of charge for Asian community groups, with her 72-year-old mother-in-law, in Gujarati and English. While 73-year-old Skipping Sikh inspired hundreds as he showed the nation how to stay fit and healthy by skipping.

Similarly, the inspiring 100 year old Dabirul Choudhury receives an OBE. Choudhury challenged himself to walk 100 laps around his garden whilst fasting during Islamic holy month of Ramadan to raise money for Covid-19 relief.

Also among the list of community heroes is Sandeep Singh Daheley who received his MBE for taking the initiative to create an online portal for prayers whilst the Gurdwara was closed during Covid-19, to keep the essence of community alive for the Sikh community across the UK.

Closer to home in Yorkshire, Imran Rashid Dawji, 24, received an MBE in recognition of his work in establishing a recruitment process that enabled the supermarket to hire an additional 25,000 temporary staff during the pandemic.

Dawji, from Batley, West Yorkshire, said, “It was a pivotal time to ensure everything was close to perfect as we had a duty to ensure support was provided to everyone around the country”

The majority of the Queen’s Birthday Honours List was compiled before the ongoing pandemic. The List was deferred in order to consider nominations for people playing crucial roles during the first months of the COVID-19 effort and has prioritised frontline and community heroes who went above and beyond their duties to help others.

These include for Pa Assan Badjan, an Emergency Services Porter at the Royal London Hospital Emergency Department, who receives an honorary British Empire Medal for services to the NHS.

Of those who have been awarded, 72 percent go to those who have worked tirelessly for their local community. This reflects the huge voluntary effort across the country in response to COVID-19, with recipients cumulatively supplying millions of free meals to those shielding, delivering care packages to NHS frontline workers and clocking up countless voluntary hours to support those at risk.

Among those receiving awards this year, is Sir David Attenborough who receives a Knight Grand Cross (GCMG) in the Order of St Michael and Saint George. Sir David is recognised for his exceptional and sustained international contribution to broadcasting, natural history and the environment.

Sir Philip Barton, Permanent Under Secretary at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and Head of the Diplomatic Service, said:

“I congratulate everyone receiving an honour and thank them for their hard work and years of service. The UK’s impact around the world depends on exceptional people like those recognised in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours. We are grateful for their outstanding contribution.”