Huddersfield people have spoken of their pride and delight at being recognised in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List.

Among those honoured is the founder of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, an 83-year ballerina who still teaches dance and a Kirklees Council manager who has had a 32-year career working in libraries.

Arts administrator Peter Murray, of Huddersfield, has been knighted for a lifetime’s service to the arts.

The founder of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) at West Bretton, Sir Peter is due to retire later this year.

Sir Peter has led the organisation for over four decades starting with £1,000 and no employees. YSP now employs over 200 people, generates around £11.5 million for the regional economy and welcomes 500,000 visitors a year to a 500-acre park with world class art by the likes of Damien Hirst.

Sir Peter said: “It is a great honour for me and YSP. I think the award acknowledges the importance of the organisation to the wider public and the contribution it continues to make to arts and culture, and the economy.”

Sir Peter Murray at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. YSP image by: India Hobson

Born and raised in Huddersfield, Barbara Peters trained at the Royal Academy of Dance in London and became the academy’s youngest examiner at the age of 25.

She returned to Huddersfield in the 1960s and started the Barbara Peters School of Dancing, which helped generations of young dancers over half a century.

Now 83 Barbara is still teaching dance and helps her daughter Claire O’Connor, who runs the babyballet company.

Barbara, who performed on TV’s The Greatest Dancer aged 80 in 2019 and appeared on Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two last year, said she was “very honoured” to receive the British Empire Medal.

“It’s a privilege,” she said. “I have given my whole life to dance. My job has been my passion.”

Meanwhile, Andy Wright, Kirklees Council’s library development manager, will receive a BEM for services to public libraries after working in the sector for over 30 years.

Andy, 54, of Mirfield, is based at Huddersfield Library. He previously worked at Wakefield Libraries in a wide variety of roles, eventually becoming acting head of service, before moving to Kirklees Libraries in July 2019.

One of his career highlights was helping to design Wakefield Central Library, one of the biggest city libraries built this century. Andy has also led on “Engaging Libraries”, a public engagement grants scheme with the Wellcome Trust and the Carnegie UK Trust which brought £750,000 of investment into the public library sector.

Andy was also in the news last year when he completed a five-year 5,000-mile charity running challenge raising over £11,000 for The Kirkwood.

Andy said he was “surprised and extremely proud” and added: “It’s been a real privilege to work with so many great people in public libraries over the years, in Kirklees and Wakefield, as well as regionally and nationally. I feel that this award is testament to all the exceptional teams that it’s been an honour to work with.”

Andy joins Kirklees Libraries colleagues Jon Davis and Judith Robinson who received British Empire Medals in 2020 and 2019 respectively.

Andy Wright

Railway worker Rich Holliday, of Huddersfield, has been awarded the BEM for services to charity and his voluntary work with the Samaritans.

Rich, 47, who works as a learning and development manager for TransPennine Express in Huddersfield, has also been recognised for championing suicide prevention on the network.

As a strong advocate for mental health awareness in the workplace, Rich is open about his own experiences and introduced “Zoom elevenses” calls for his colleagues during the pandemic.

Rich said: “I’m completely overwhelmed. I didn’t realise I’d been nominated but I’m thrilled. What an incredible honour. Giving back to others is so important.”

Mandy Taylor

Charity angel Mandy Taylor burst into tears when she was told she’d been awarded an MBE.

Mandy, 53, of Golcar, was given the fabulous news by husband Andrew just days before she died.

Mum-of-one Mandy, who helped raise more than £2 million for charities and good causes in Huddersfield and beyond, had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, her fourth cancer diagnosis in 10 years.

Mandy, who was closely involved in fundraising to set up the Huddersfield-based Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice, was nominated by friends including Nicky Chance-Thompson, chief executive of the Piece Hall in Halifax, Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire Ed Anderson and charity fundraiser Neil Davidson.

Andrew said: “I was just so grateful I was able to share the news with Mandy and she just burst into tears.”

Other people with Huddersfield connections to receive honours include former Asda CEO Roger Burnley, awarded a CBE for a career in retail spanning three decades.

Mr Burnley, who lives in Upper Hopton, was a non-executive director at Huddersfield Town between 2015 and 2019. He received an honorary doctorate from the University of Huddersfield in 2019.

Huddersfield born and raised Sofia Buncy, founder of the Muslim Women in Prison Project in Bradford, received the MBE. The pioneering project was the first of its kind in the UK.

Sofia, a deputy lieutenant of West Yorkshire, has worked in the voluntary and community sector for 18 years and has a passion for interfaith, youth and community development, charitable work and social and civil cohesion.

Sofia said she was “deeply honoured” and added: “I find community work so rewarding. It gives me purpose and happiness.”

Belinda Rickerby, 59, has worked for Kirklees Council’s town hall hospitality service for 25 years and has been awarded a British Empire Medal for services to the community after forming a new partnership with an alcohol abuse charity during the pandemic.

Belinda teamed up with Choices for Health in Addiction Recovery and Treatment (CHART) which realised people undergoing treatment for alcohol problems would be at risk during lockdown. Belinda helped donate stock from council hospitality outlets and personally delivered alcohol to CHART to allow measured doses to be given.

Melanie Oldham, of Holmfirth, received an OBE. Melanie is chief executive of Barnsley-based cyber-security firm Bob’s Business and her children make sure she stays grounded.

Writing on LinkedIn, Melanie said: “On sharing the news with friends at New Year my daughter turns round to me and asks: ‘Mum, why you acting all shy and embarrassed?’

“I respond with: ‘I am really proud and happy but the truth is everything I have achieved is only because I have a whole host of amazing people helping me’ to which my son responds with: ‘So you’re just the one in the spotlight taking all the glory.’ I couldn’t have put it any better!”

Congratulations to all!