The Queen is going to knight a former Southwark MP and honour a pearly king for his charity work to celebrate her birthday this year.
In Her Majesty’s honours list released last week Simon Hughes, former MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, said it was a “great surprise” to see his name next to the word “knighthood.”
The Liberal Democrat veteran, who had served his constituency for 32 years when he lost his seat at the election in May, said he was ready for some good news.
“It’s been a rollercoaster year,” said Mr Hughes. “The election defeat and then Charles Kennedy’s death was a real blow. I was with Barry Albin-Dyer in his last few days and that was very hard and then suddenly out of the blue came this good news.”
When he receives the honour at Buckingham Palace, Mr Hughes says it will be an honour for him, his team and everyone who has helped his work in the constituency over the last 30 years.
“This honour is a testament to the hard work of so many different people and belongs as much to them as to me,” he said. “I think it gives recognition to the area as well.”
Although Mr Hughes has met the Queen before, he confessed he would still be quite nervous about being alone with the “most well-known head of state in the world. It doesn’t get much bigger than that,” he said.
Pearly King, Jimmy Jukes, has been given an MBE for his work setting up the Rotherhithe based Homes4Heroes charity – housing ex-service personnel.
He very nearly knew nothing about it, though, after he threw the letter informing him of the honour in the bin.
“I thought it was a tax demand,” said Jimmy. “It was a brown envelope with her majesty’s service written on it and I thought ‘I don’t fancy that’.” When he retrieved it and finally opened it, he thought someone was playing a joke on him. “I’m just an ordinary bloke. People like me don’t get awards do we? I was shocked.”
As a staunch royalist, Jimmy is hoping the Queen will be the one to give him his medal. “That would make my lifetime that would,” he said, joking that he had better be on his best behaviour after his sense of humour once left Princess Anne lost for words. “I told her I wasn’t going to bow to her because she was a Princess and I was a King. Princess Anne wasn’t too happy with that,” he said.
A former Southwark councillor who organised ten years of Christmas parties for thousands of OAPs is also to receive an MBE. Les Alden, 71, has recently retired for the second time to Shoreham by Sea, but spent over 40 years serving the people of Southwark as a civil servant, councillor and charity leader.
“It’s a great honour but I couldn’t have done it without my wife and all my friends who supported me,” said Les, who was nominated by current Faraday ward councillor, Lorraine Lauder.
Charles Kennedy’s brother-in-law, James Gurling, who lives in Southwark, has been awarded an OBE for political service and Dulwich College’s Chiwetel Ejiofor, has been awarded an OBE for services to drama.