New Year Honours 2021: Trevor Phillips and motorcycle couple recognised
- Credit: Vikki van Someren
Writer Trevor Phillips and a husband and wife who mobilised a motorcycle volunteer force during the pandemic, are some of the Hackney and Islington people recognised in this year's New Year Honours.
Vikki van Someren and Anthony St John van Someren, known as Dutch, were recognised in the list announced today (December 31). They were given British Empire Medals (BEM) for services to the Covid-19 response.
The husband and wife team run a business called The Bike Shed, a popular motorcycle venue located under the railway arches in the Shoreditch area of London.
During the pandemic they wanted to support people in need in their community so they turned their business into a hub for a network of volunteer riders who, using their own bikes, would provide free courier-style services.
Thousands of members of the Volunteer Riders Group dropped off tens of thousands of urgent deliveries of essential PPE gear to frontline healthcare workers and food and medicine to people shielding.
Mrs Someren said: "We are still in shock, and are honoured and humbled in receiving this award on behalf of all the Bike Shed Community Response volunteers.
"Our biking community inspired us to do this.
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"A call from a friend back in March 2020 to help her isolating parents up north, made us realise there were many people who needed support during the Covid crisis and many riders who, like us, were willing and able to help."
They also delivered oximeters to individuals requiring critical monitoring of their blood oxygen levels in their homes and testing kits to those who were shielding.
Deliveries were co-ordinated using a mobile app, with fully authorised safeguarding and legal checks to track upcoming jobs, eliminating delays and ensuring an effective and reliable service.
Writer, broadcaster and former chair of the London Assembly, Trevor Phillips, was also recognised. Mr Phillips was born in Islington in 1953.
His parents emigrated from Guyana, then called British Guiana, and he was the youngest of ten children. He spent parts of his childhood in British Guiana and in Wood Green.
Mr Phillips was appointed head of the Commission for Racial Equality in 2003 and was the chairman of Equality and Human Rights Commission from 2007 to 2012.
He was was awarded a Knights Bachelor in the New Years Honours, for services to equality and human rights.
Curator and cultural historian Mark Sealy MBE, who was born in Hackney, was recognised as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to art.
Sealy has been the director of Autograph ABP (the Association of Black Photographers), which is based at Rivington Place in Shoreditch, since 1991.
Professor Anthony Finkelstein CBE, President of City, University of London, got a Knights Bachelor for public service. He was the government's chief scientific adviser for national security from 2015 to June 2021.
The professor was also involved with Islington Council in the creation of Better Space, an affordable workspace at The Ray Farringdon.
Radio and television presenter Margherita Taylor was awarded an MBE for services to broadcasting and diversity.
Artistic director Alistair Spalding CBE was also given a Knights Bachelor for services to Dance. He is the director and chief executive of Sadler’s Wells Theatre in Clerkenwell.
Heather Wood was given an OBE for services to the House of Commons as a Registrar. She is also a director of Choices Islington, which offers advice for women facing unplanned pregnancy and post-abortion support.
James Watson-O'Neill, chief executive of SignHealth in Shoredtich, was awarded an OBE for services to people with hearing impairments.
SignHealth is a charity which supports deaf people's health and wellbeing. It is led by deaf people.
Artist and member of the influential BLK Art Group, Claudette Johnson, was awarded an MBE for services to art.