New Year's Honours: Hackney 'Mama' and Marks and Spencer's hero among those honoured

Janette Collins outside The Crib, Benyon Court

Janette Collins outside The Crib, Benyon Court. - Credit: Polly Hancock/Archant

A Marks and Spencer's food manager, youth club founder, clinical psychologist and poet are among those in Hackney to be recognised in the New Year's Honours this year.

The Queen's New Years Honours 2021 list recognises the extraordinary achievements and service of people across the United Kingdom and includes Seven-time Formula One world title winner Lewis Hamilton, veteran footballers Jimmy Greaves and Ron Flowers, actress Sheila Hancock and ambassador for the Jo Cox Foundation Kim Leadbeater, Jo Cox's sister. 

READ MORE: ‘It’s the daddy of all certificates’: Hackney’s Crib founder Janette Collins Pride of Britain finalists

Marks and Spencer manager Azizur Rahmen stands in a suit.

Azizur Rahmen BEM. - Credit: Courtesy of Azizur Rahmen

Azizur Rahmen, a team manager in Marks and Spencer's Hackney Branch, was awarded a BEM for stepping up to help vulnerable customers at the start of the coronavirus pandemic before Marks and Spencer had put in place a delivery service.

The 40-year-old said he thought "it was a joke" at first and nearly missed the deadline to accept the award due to a misspelt email. He added that a lot of people had stepped up this year to help during the pandemic and all his efforts were worth seeing happy faces from elderly and vulnerable customers. 

READ MORE: ‘Search your kids’ bedrooms for knives’: Mama Hackney urges action on stabbing victim Marcel Addai’s birthday

"All this work I did, it was appreciated. Sometimes you think: 'Is it really being noticed?' You don’t do it to be noticed but it's quite nice when someone does," he said. 

Azizur took telephone orders in his own time and shopping to people who could not leave their homes, even volunteering to do shopping for customers who were nervous about entering his store.

He provided training for colleagues to help the shop adapt in response to Covid-19 and helped keep shielding staff members connected and supported, even delivering gifts to a colleague who had celebrated her birthday alone. 

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His Hackney branch also remained the top performing small food store within Marks and Spencers for 10 weeks despite additional pressures and the manager helped build relationships with local charities to ensure no food goes to waste. 

Youth club founder and activist Janette Collins MBE, 61, has also been honoured in the list and has been made an MBE for the work she has done supporting young people in Hackney and across London since she was 18 years old.

The De Beauvoir resident known as "Mama Hackney" set up the social inclusion project, The Crib, in 1999, a charity which helps young people find work and get back into education, with the aim of steering them away from gun and knife crime. 

Janette said: "We have turned a lot of lives around. We have lost some but I feel blessed . 

"I feel blessed and I thank all the young people for all the support that they have given me.  

"Don't forget that although we are supporting them we still get something back ourselves. 

The young people have supported me when we had hard times and good times. They have come, they have volunteered when we had a lack of funding. Young people have stepped in and parents have stepped in as well so I would like to thank all of them.

READ MORE: New Year Honours: ‘When I win, Hackney wins’

While she was overwhelmed by the news and almost fainted when she learned of the award, Janette was happy her work helping and bringing young people together has been recognised. 

Clinical psychologist Susan Crocker,  who heads the Community Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) in Hackney has also made the honours list for services to children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. 

Portrait photograph of Susan Crocker

Clinal psychologist and head of Community CAMHS in Hackney, Susan Crocker has been recognised in the New Year Honours list. - Credit: Courtesy of Susan Crocker

She "set up from scratch" a specialist CAHMS service for young people with "profound" disabilities and autism  in Hackney 18 years ago.  

"It's my life's work," Susan said. 

The psychologist said her aim has always been offer a service equal to others provided to children without disabilities and said she is accepting the award on behalf of her team.

"I have stayed with the service for years and it's only through working hard over a long time that you can achieve this. It is not something you can dip your toe in, it's slow and steady, chipping away at getting funding and getting proposals through over years - but it’s the team that has enabled me to do it," Susan added. 

Hackney born and bred poet and educator Raymond Antrobus has also made the list his for his services to literature as well as chef Margot Henderson of Rochelle Canteen in Shoreditch for services to the Culinary Arts.

 Raymond Antrobus holding a book

Hakney poet and educator, Raymond Antrobus, has been awarded an MBE. - Credit: Adrian Pope

Raymond said his work aims to work against the stigmatisation of people living with disabilities : "As a mixed race Black, hard of hearing kid from Hackney, who came out of state run 'special educational needs units', I hope the narrative that is promoted with my acceptance of an MBE for my contribution to English language literature offers inspiration and a call to action.

"The majority of people born deaf in the UK grow up illiterate. We live in a country that still doesn't have British sign language on its national curriculum.

"There's a lot to undo in terms of

how we think and talk about disability, race and education in the UK."     

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