Vocational champions honoured for the first time

WorldSkills winners who now train others are appointed MBE

Joseph Lee

Former UK competitors at WorldSkills, the international competition for vocational skills, have been recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours for the first time.

Four of Britain's most highly skilled young people, who have won medals at previous competitions and continue to help train their successors, were appointed MBE. The appointments recognise the increasing prominence of the skills competition in the UK, following the staging of WorldSkills 2011 in London last October and the creation of a national competition to be held at the new, annual Skills Show in November.

Among those honoured was Jenna Bailey, who won a silver medal in beauty therapy in Montreal in 1999. As the first competitor in the event, she said she had little training, but she has contributed her expertise in every competition since as an associate training manager. She also teaches the subject at Ashton Community Science College in Preston.

"I honestly couldn't believe it," she said about the honour. "I had to read the letter three times before it sunk in. Then my partner had to read it because he wouldn't believe me.

"Because I'm a teacher in my normal day job, it's in my nature to want to pass on everything that I know. I know what it feels like to compete and I want other people to get as much out of it as I did."

Also appointed MBE were Richard Sagar, who won a gold medal in the electrical installation event in Calgary in 2009 and now runs his own business; Keith Chapman, winner of a medallion for excellence in landscape gardening in Japan in 2007, who also runs his own company; and Adam Peirson, winner of a medallion for excellence in cooking in Switzerland in 2003 and a sous chef at Claridge's in London. All still work as ambassadors for the skills competition, aiming to inspire others to compete.

The organisers of last year's event in London - which drew 200,000 people to watch the competitors, seek careers advice and try out new skills in the demonstration areas - were also honoured. Aidan Jones, chief executive of WorldSkills 2011, was appointed OBE, while deputy chairman David Cragg was appointed CBE.

The director of skills competitions at the National Apprenticeship Service, Eugene Incerti, was also appointed MBE for his contribution to last year's competition, which saw a record four gold, two silver and six bronze medals for Team UK, which finished in fifth place.

Chris Humphries, chairman of WorldSkills 2011, congratulated those who had been honoured, saying that the competition had been "a potential watershed for changing the public perception about the value of skills in the UK", which the national competition at the Skills Show would aim to continue. "The competitors who took part are young, inspirational role models and many will go on to establish multinational businesses, develop new products and services and continue to lead their industries, just as their predecessors have done," he said.

Three college principals and two former principals were also honoured. Pete Birkett, principal of Barnfield College, was knighted for services "to further education and the academy movement"; Maxine Room, principal of Lewisham College, was appointed CBE for services to race and gender equality in addition to FE; and Dr Alison Birkinshaw, principal of York College, was appointed OBE.

Michael Oakes, former principal of South Downs College, was appointed OBE, as was Chris Morecroft, former principal of Worcester College of Technology and an ex-president of the Association of Colleges, and Pat Denham, vice-principal of South Devon College.

On their merits


- Pat Jones, former director of the Prisoners' Education Trust.


- Peter Garrod, former head of Lancashire Adult Learning.


- Patricia Barrett, governor, Bedford College.

- Keith Brandwood, lecturer, Blackburn College.

- Glyn Catley, governor, Coleg Llandrillo Cymru.

- Janet Croney, faculty director of cultural and creative studies, Richmond Adult Community College.

- Kay Foggon, lecturer, School of Lifestyle, Newcastle College.

- Jean Liddell, access and support officer, South Eastern Regional College.

- Harry McCullough, deputy principal officer for FE, Department for Employment and Learning, Northern Ireland Executive.

- Ian Shaw, former chairman of governors, Lincoln College.

- Gavin Thomas, curriculum and quality consultant at ColegauCymru.

- Doreen White, social area supervisor, Franklin College, Grimsby.

BEM (British Empire Medal):

- Cynthia Crossley, estates operations team leader, Riverside College, Widnes and Runcorn.

- Jean Marsden, admissions and reception services manager, John Ruskin College, Croydon.

- Marilynn McGee, caretaker, Prior Pursglove College, North Yorkshire.

- Barry Ryan, former caretaker, Walford and North Shropshire College.

- Sobhag Shah, head caretaker, Richmond upon Thames College.

For the full honours list, visit bit.lyK8MnUD.

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Joseph Lee

Joseph Lee is an award-winning freelance education journalist 

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