University of Birmingham students, staff and alumni recognised in 2017 New Year Honours

An array of University of Birmingham students, staff and alumni were among those honoured by the Queen in the 2017 New Year Honours list.

University alumnus and British Heart Foundation Director Professor Peter Weissberg received a CBE while academic and world-leading linguist Professor Susan Hunston and Honorary Professor in End of Life Care, Keri Thomas received OBEs. University Council member Martin Devenish and Olympians Sophie Bray and Lily Owsley and Paralympian Lorna Fachie, each received MBEs.

Professor Hunston, who works in the University’s Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics, received an OBE for services to Higher Education and Applied Linguistics. Her achievements have received international acclaim. She began her career as one of the leading researchers on the pioneering COBUILD project, which involved the creation and analysis of the first electronic body of contemporary text, the Bank of English, and the production of the world’s first dictionary based on entirely authentic language (as opposed to the intuitions of linguists about how language works). This has now become the default method of writing dictionaries and the approach has been adopted by all major publishers worldwide. Professor Hunston also played a key role in what is widely recognised as one of the outstanding achievements of Twentieth Century linguistics: the development of Pattern Grammar, which changed how dictionaries, course books and grammar books are written.

Professor Hunston said: ‘I’m really thrilled at this honour. It’s great that the international importance of Applied Linguistics is being recognised in this way.’

Professor Weissberg received a CBE for his work with the British Heart Foundation. Having graduated in Medicine from the University of Birmingham in 1976, he trained as a clinical cardiologist before being appointed lecturer in Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Birmingham. In 1994 he was appointed as the first British Heart Foundation Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Cambridge. In December 2004 he became Medical Director of the British Heart Foundation, which currently distributes some £105m annually for cardiovascular research, prevention and care in the UK.

Professor Weissberg said: ‘I am immensely proud of receiving this award which reflects the enormous impact the British Heart Foundation has had on cardiovascular research in the UK and beyond. It would not have come about without the collective effort of all who work at the BHF and, particularly, those people who donate their time and money so generously to allow the BHF to do its work. I feel honoured to have had the opportunity to be its Medical Director.’

Honorary Professor Keri Thomas received an OBE for services to End of Life Care. As the founder and National Clinical Lead for the Gold Standards Framework Centre in End of Life Care, her work has significantly improved national and international standards of care for all people nearing the end of life in all settings.

Martin Devenish received an MBE for services to Higher Education and voluntary service to Educational Development Overseas. Having completed his Bachelors of Commerce in Industrial Economics and Business Studies at the University of Birmingham in 1986, he went on to spend four years at HSBC Asset Management, before joining Goldman Sachs in 1992, where he become a Partner and focused on Emerging Markets. Mr Devenish is an active member of the University’s Development Advisory Council and a great supporter of our Access to Birmingham (A2B) scheme, which offers scholarships and support to ensure fair access for the brightest and best potential students regardless of their personal circumstances. He is also a ‘lay’ member of the University’s Council.

University of Birmingham Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation student Lily Owsley, and Psychology graduate Sophie Bray, received MBEs for their services to hockey in recognition of the part they played in helping Team GB to make history as the first British women’s hockey team to win Olympic gold, in the 2016 Rio Games. Aged just 21, Lily was the youngest member of the British hockey team and scored Team GB’s opening goal of the Olympics and the first goal of the 3-3 draw in the gold medal final.

English racing cyclist and Paralympian Lora Fachie, who studied physiotherapy at Birmingham, received an MBE for services to cycling. The visually impaired double world champion took part in the 2016 Track World Championships, winning bronze in the Tandem individual pursuit, then travelled to Ostend in Belgium where she took two more silver World Cup medals before going on to compete at Rio, entering four events over both road and track disciplines.

ENDS

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