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2021 Queen’s New Year’s Honours a departure as civil servants lead recognition

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Posted: Friday, January 1, 2021. 1:29 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: In Britain as in Belize, few politicians in the proper understanding of the word were lined up to be nominated for Her Majesty the Queen’s New Year’s Honours, announced Thursday morning London time.

According to the Daily Mirror (UK), celebrities in the fields of sports, arts and entertainment share the list with unsung heroes in the fight against COVID-19, both in the UK and across the Commonwealth, not to mention other front-line personnel.

Nearly two thirds (65%) of honourees were everyday heroes lauded for their efforts during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – from retired nurses returning to the frontline to furloughed airline staff supporting NHS workers.

There were 231 people named in the New Year honours – 18.6% of the total – for their services during the crisis, while public sector staff such as medics, teachers and firefighters making up 14.8% of the list.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the awards were a “welcome reminder of the strength of human spirit” after a year of immense adversity: “The 2021 New Year Honours offer us an opportunity to salute their dedication and recognise many who have gone above and beyond in their contribution to our country. As we begin a new year and continue to come together to fight this virus, may their service and stories be an inspiration to us all.”

With the sole exception of businesswoman and beautician Mapye Yolanda Smith, made an MBE for services to entrepreneurship and to the community, this year’s recipients are all career public servants, a few of whom lost their jobs in the aftermath of November’s general election. The appointments were announced before elections were called.

Former CEO in the Ministry of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation, Judith Marie Alpuche, will be made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for contributions to social work and public service. She was most recently co-chair of the National COVID-19 Task Force and masterminded the management of the Unemployment Relief Program, Food Assistance Program and similar programs during her tenure.

Also made an OBE is Dr Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services but presently on leave, for contribution to public health and public service. He directed the national fight against COVID-19, regularly appearing on the Government service’s Facebook webcast ‘Ask the Experts’ to deliver advice, strategy, warning and compassion before ultimately landing in hospital with COVID-19 early in December.

On the rung below, to be made Members of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, are former CEO in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and diplomat, Her Excellency Lou-Anne Burns Martinez, for contributions to foreign and public service; Solicitor General Elisa Montalvo, for contributions to law and public service; Commandant of the Belize Defence Force (BDF), Brigadier General Steven Ortega, for contributions to national security and public service, and Commissioner of Police, Chester Clyde Williams, for his contribution to Security and public service.

The awards will be presented later in 2021 by Governor-General Sir Colville Young in person where possible.

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