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Women Business Pioneers Among New Year Honours Recipients

The first woman to run one of Britain’s biggest high street banks has been given a damehood in the New Year Honours list.

Alison Rose, the chief executive of NatWest Group, joined the bank 30 years ago as a graduate and climbed the ranks to take on the top job in November 2019.

Dame Alison has been recognised for her services to financial services, having steered the bank through the pandemic, and taken action on issues like gender inclusivity and climate change.

She said: “It is a tremendous privilege to receive a damehood in His Majesty’s New Year Honours list and I am immensely proud to lead an organisation that plays such a positive role in the lives of people and families across the UK.”

Dame Alison has been vocal about the barriers that women face in business and the investment gap between female-led and male-led companies.

She was asked by the Government to lead a review into female entrepreneurship, published in 2019, which found that closing the gap between male and female entrepreneurs could add £250 billion to the UK’s economy.

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She is one of 15 people to become a dame in this year’s Honour’s list, including the first Rolls-Royce chairwoman Anita Frew.

Dame Anita, 65, said it is a “great privilege” to be given the honour.

As one of only 18 women leading boards at Britain’s biggest listed firms, she got the top honour for her services to business and the economy.

Anita Frew has been appointed chair of Rolls-Royce (Image: Rolls-Royce) She was hired as chairwoman at engine maker Rolls last July and holds the same role at chemicals group Croda International. Both Rolls and Croda are FTSE 100-listed firms.

She said: “I’m sure that if anyone had told me, as a young girl growing up in Scotland with a father and a grandfather who worked at Rolls-Royce, that one day not only would I chair that company but would have the honour to be made a dame, I would not have believed it.”

Ivan Menezes, the boss of the company behind Guinness and Johnnie Walker has been recognised with a knighthood for services to business and equality.

The businessman has been head of Diageo since 2013, having worked his way up the ranks at the drinks giant.

In Scotland, William Robertson, who founded Robertson Group in Elgin, Moray, in 1966 and is executive chairman of the company, is knighted for services to the construction industry and to charity in Scotland, while Norman Keith Skeoch, previously chief executive of Standard Life Aberdeen, receives a knighthood for services to the financial sector.

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In the world of sport, four of football’s Lionesses are honoured while Queen guitarist Brian May and artist Grayson Perry are knighted.

Captain Leah Williamson is among four of England’s Euro 2022-winning side to be named in the list, being made an OBE while her teammates Lucy Bronze, Beth Mead and Ellen White are all made MBEs.

Musician and animal welfare campaigner Sir Brian, who famously played God Save The Queen on the roof of Buckingham Palace during the Golden Jubilee before performing again at the Platinum Jubilee two decades later, has been appointed a knight bachelor for services to music and charity.

Others to receive knighthoods include politicians who proved to be thorns in the side of Boris Johnson, including Conservative Julian Lewis, chairman of the parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), and Labour’s Chris Bryant, who chairs the Commons Standards Committee.

There is also a prestigious honour for former Treasury permanent secretary Sir Tom Scholar, who becomes a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath having been summarily sacked by short-lived prime minister Liz Truss on her first day in office.

Elsewhere in sport, Olympic heptathlon gold medallist Denise Lewis, now the president of Commonwealth Games England, is made a dame, while in showbiz, actor Stephen Graham is made an OBE and comedian Frank Skinner an MBE.

Senior diplomats at the forefront of the UK’s response to the war in Ukraine have been included in the mix with damehoods for Melinda Simmons, ambassador in Kyiv, and Deborah Bronnert, ambassador in Moscow.

Others who worked on the UK’s response to Russia’s invasion have also been recognised, including Dr Paul Ransom, an emergency consultant, as well as Louenna Hood, a nanny from Cambridgeshire, who organised container loads of essentials to go directly to those fleeing the war-torn country.

This year’s list, which is the first published since the Queen’s death and the first to be signed off by her son the King, includes a total of 1,107 recipients – 50% of whom are women.

The youngest to be honoured is Dara McAnulty, 18, from Annalong, County Down, who receives a BEM for his environmental work and work with people with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

And the oldest is 100-year-old Peter Davies, from Bollington, in Cheshire, who is also be awarded a BEM for his work as a reading volunteer at Dean Valley Community Primary School.


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