Outstanding individuals from Wiltshire named in The King’s inaugural Birthday Honours

By Nick Batten on 21 June, 2023

A total of 86 residents from across the South West – including five from Wiltshire – have been awarded honours for extraordinary service to their communities in The King’s first Official Birthday Honours List.

Announced on 17th June 2023, the list includes recipients who have contributed significant amounts of service to their local communities and the country as a whole. Many have been awarded for voluntary work – going above and beyond to help others while asking for little recognition in return. 

Among those from Wiltshire was Sally Orange a physiotherapist, army veteran and fundraiser from Salisbury who was awarded an MBE for services to charity and mental health.  

Sally has now run over 80 marathons, broken five Guinness World records and is zealous about changing the conversation on mental ill health. Over a 30-year period, she has volunteered and fundraised for over 40 different charities, raising over half a million pounds in donations. 

Sally said, “I am absolutely over the moon and it hasn’t quite sunk in yet but I really do hope that my story can be used by others to see that there can be hope when it comes to mental illness. To think 10 years ago I was under the care of my local mental health crisis team as I couldn’t see a reason to live, to now receiving this tremendous honour, is something I would never have thought possible.

“I still take medication and see a therapist as the illness hasn’t gone away but I am in such a better place now and am able to manage my condition rather than it managing me. I am no longer ashamed and truly believe that the more open we can be about our struggles it will help others realise they are not alone”

Claire Bessant, MBE

Claire Bessant – also from Salisbury – picked up her MBE for services to cat care. Working for over 28 years as CEO of International Cat Care (ICC) she is an international thought leader in the field where she has personally led on the development of cat-friendly clinics which have been implemented worldwide. 

Claire said, “I was thrilled to and humbled to receive the MBE, but delighted that animal welfare and, in particular for me, cat welfare, has been recognised. I have worked in the area of cat welfare for over 30 years, being chief executive of the charity International Cat Care for 28 years, retiring last year. Over that time myself and my colleagues took a very small UK charity and grew it into an international voice on cat welfare, in the field of veterinary medicine, as well as in care of pet cats and, more recently, in the complex and challenging field of helping unowned cats and training on humane population management. How lovely to be recognised for something I loved doing.”

Also receiving an MBE was Julia Adamson, MD for Education and Public Benefit of Swindon-based BCS The Chartered Institute for IT, who was recognised for her contribution to computing education.

Julia Adamson, MBE

Her mission at BCS is to give every young person the digital skills they need to succeed in life and work.

Julia played a lead role in establishing and managing the National Centre for Computing Education (NCCE), an £84 million government-funded programme to upskill teachers to deliver world-class computing education in schools.

 Julia said, “I want this honour to recognise the work of every teacher who brings digital skills and computing education into young people’s lives. 

“I became passionate about the wonder and power of computing as a primary school teacher over 25 years ago and it was clear then it would only become more important. 

“Today with the emergence of AI, it is absolutely vital that every girl and boy has the digital skills and qualifications they need to achieve their ambitions and thrive. Computing gets everywhere, like glitter – there’s no going back!”

Meanwhile, two Wiltshire residents were awarded BEMs.

Leslie Welling from Devizes received his for services to the community in Devizes. He is well known in the Devizes area and the local villages for producing the weekly talking newspaper and sending it out on a USB stick to over 50 blind and partially sighted members of the community on a completely voluntary basis.

David Tarr from Ashton Keynes was recognised for services to Ashton Keynes Primary School and to the community in Ashton Keynes. David moved to the village 55 years ago and at the age of 94, he continues to make a substantial contribution – a major part of which being through his work for the primary school.

David Tarr, BEM

David said, “I’m very honoured and humbled to receive such an award. I regard it as not just for me but also for all the people that I’ve worked with. Everything that I’ve managed to do I couldn’t do on my own and it’s been with the support of a wonderful community at Ashton Keynes that we can get things done at all. So, thank you, everybody.”   

This year’s list is proof that talent is spread across the whole of the UK, but opportunity is sometimes not. The South West is underrepresented in the honours system, with the latest stats showing that 7.5% of honours go to people in this area, despite it comprising 8.4% of the UK population. 

As a result, the Government is committed to Levelling Up and that includes the honours system.

Anyone can nominate someone for an honour and the government is calling on people from across the UK who know someone who has achieved fantastic things to go to https://www.gov.uk/honours to find out more about how they can put someone forward. 

Deputy Prime Minister, Rt Hon. Oliver Dowden MP, said, “This year’s honours list is a testament to ordinary people who have demonstrated extraordinary community spirit, and I pay tribute to all those from the South West who have been recognised today.”

The full birthday honours list can be viewed here: https://www.gov.uk/honours/honours-lists

Pictured: (Top of Page) Sally Orange, MBE