Queens Birthday Honours List 2021: MP Meg Hillier and poet Lemn Sissay among those recognised

Hackney poet, playwright and author Lemn Sissay OBE. 

Hackney poet, playwright and author Lemn Sissay OBE. - Credit: Slater King

MP Meg Hillier, poet of the 2012 London Olympics Lemn Sissay and Ghanaian-born publisher Margaret Busby are some of the Hackney people recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours this year. 

MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch, Meg Hillier, was awarded a Damehood for her work as chair of the influential Public Accounts Committee, responsible for overseeing government expenditures, ensuring they are effective and honest. 

This has included scrutinising government spending on its preparations for exiting the European Union and spending during the pandemic. 

Ms Hillier said: "It’s a huge honour. Holding the government to account through the Public Accounts Committee is a joint endeavour. I can’t do my job without the support of the committee."

Hackney South and Shoreditch MP Meg Hillier. Picture: Stefano Cagnoni

Hackney South and Shoreditch MP Meg Hillier. Picture: Stefano Cagnoni - Credit: Archant

The role has seen the Hackney politician widely respected by all sides of the House of Commons. She joined the committee in 2011 and was elected Chair four years later, making her the third longest serving chair in the committee's 160 year history.


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Dame Hillier began her career as a councillor in 1994. She served as the youngest ever Mayor of Islington in 1998 and then on the London Assembly in 2000.

In 2005, she was elected MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch and also chairs the Commonwealth Association of Public Accounts Committees. 

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Poet and playwright Lemn Sissay was awarded an OBE for services to literature and charity.

He spent his childhood in care and moved to Hackney later on in his life.

Lemn founded the Christmas Dinner Project in his home city of Manchester and then brought it to Hackney.

The project now sees people from communities all over the country volunteer to provide care leavers with a Christmas Day every year. 

The author told the Gazette: "I'm honoured."

"Any other young kid in Hackney who is brought up in care or who's not brought up in care but who sometimes struggles. If you had gone to my 17-year-old self and said: 'In 2021 the Queen's going to give you [an honour], I would have said: 'No way.' So it's worth believing."

Hackney publisher, writer and broadcaster Margaret Yvonne Busby OBE was awarded a CBE for services to publishing. 

In the 1960s, the former Hackney Empire director was Britain's youngest and first black female book publisher when she co-founded the London-based publishing house Allison and Busby, with Clive Allison. 

Publisher Margaret Busby CBE. 

Publisher Margaret Busby CBE. - Credit: Luke Daniels

Margaret helped resurrect the work of her father's childhood friend CLR James and was part of a campaign to make sure Hackney Council did not rename the CLR James Library “Dalston Library and Archives” in 2010.

Margaret said of the honour: "Well, I know I did not fall from the sky; whenever I am offered any such award, my accepting it is also on behalf of and to acknowledge everyone who made me what I am, and those whom I have worked with along the way - so I gladly share this recognition with many others who deserve equally to be honoured for contributing excellence in countless spheres of work."

Sumita Singha was awarded an OBE for services to architecture. The award-winning architect, academic and author recently joined the Design Review Panel tasked with maintaining high-quality development across the borough. 

Coordinator for the National Bereavement Alliance and Director of the Childhood Bereavement Network in London Fields, Alison Celia Frances Penny was also recognised.  

The network supports grieving families in times of need. 

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