BRENDAN Foster heads the list of North-East recipents in this year's Queen’s Birthday Honours List, with a knighthood.

The 72-year-old has been recognised for services to international and national sport and culture in the North-East.

He is just one of several recipiemts from our region honoured by the Queen today.

Foster enjoyed a distinguished athletics career, including a gold medal at the 1974 European Championships in Rome, before setting up the Great North Run in 1980, the year he retired from racing.

The 2020 race was due to be the 40th running of the event, with a record 60,000 entries, but had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Foster, who described the knighthood as a great privilege, said staging the race next year was his big dream for next year.

He said: “We would love to celebrate the 40th Great North Run in 2021, that would be the biggest and most exciting ever because of the circumstances.

“If it did happen it would be the first big mass event, it would be Britain returning from this crisis. It would be a signal of that and we would love to be in that position.

“What I would like to do is stand on that finish line, with everything back to normal and as it’s been in the past, and say ‘well, that’s 40’, come down off the rostrum, have a couple of drinks and then start working on the 50th.”

Foster recalled how the news of the record entry list coincided with the first confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK.

“This year we were sitting on 60,000 entries, which would have made it the biggest mass participation event that had ever been held in the UK,” he said.

“On January 31 we were celebrating the 60,000 entries and round the corner, the RVI (Royal Victoria Infirmary) in Newcastle announced the first patients to be admitted for Covid. So they were sitting 800 yards away, terrified, and we were sitting there, celebrating. We were never to know, they were never to know.”

Foster, who was born and raised in Hebburn, County Durham, was awarded an MBE in 1975 before being honoured with a CBE in 2008.

As well as his track success and his work with the Great North Run, Foster is best known to many for his work as a commentator for the BBC, a job he did between 1980 and 2017.

Reflecting on this latest honour, Foster said: “When I look back, which I’ve only done in the last few weeks, I think how lucky I’ve been to spend my life doing something I love and that I’ve loved since I was a kid, and then The Queen gives me a knighthood for doing it.”

Meanwhile, a vegan police officer who once deployed a burger van to cut disorder on a housing estate has been honoured by the Queen for his contribution to policing.

The Northern Echo: Sergeant Dave ClarkeSergeant Dave Clarke

Sergeant Dave Clarke has been awarded the British Empire Medal.

As well as patrolling the streets of Stanley to keep the area safe, the dedicated officer has helped set up a foodbank café and resource centre, a youth club, and radio station as part of his commitment to help the community.

Sgt Clarke said. "I have come across some of the nicest people I have ever met in Stanley: they just need help to get their communities back where they were."

A businessman awarded an MBE for his services to the community has dedicated the accolade to the people of Teesside.

Mike Hind of Middlesbrough has built up a successful gym and meal plan business and when Covid-19 hit, his thoughts turned away from profits and towards helping people in need.

The Northern Echo: Mike HindMike Hind

Using his own money, Mr Hind has been putting together care packages for hospital staff and vulnerable Teesside residents since the beginning of the lockdown.

He and his team have delivered countless packages containing essential toiletries and treats to local hospitals, care homes, self-isolating people and to those staying in places such as Teesside Hospice and Zoe's Place.

Mr Hind said: "I am just a normal lad who has worked his way up.

"I am lucky enough that the people of Teesside have supported my business and without them I would not have been able to do what I've done.

"So this is my way of paying it forward and giving something back to the community."

A train driver who switched her time between the NHS and transporting key workers during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic has been awarded an BEM.

Jolene Miller, 42, joined the North-East Ambulance Service in 2006, but left two years ago to become a train driver for Northern, working out of Darlington station.

The Northern Echo: Jolene MillerJolene Miller

When train services were dramatically reduced during lockdown, Mrs Miller - who remains a registered paramedic - volunteered to work on the Covid-19 frontline at James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough.

From March to the end of June, she alternated between one week driving trains carrying key workers - including the route to James Cook station - and the next working at the hospital herself.

Mrs Miller told The Northern Echo: "When I knew they were going to be closing down the trains I thought there are a lot of people who are either going to be doing very little driving trains, or they'll be staying at home and I thought, I am in a position to help.

"I rang HR (at Northern) and said this is the situation; I am still a registered paramedic, I can help out, I can't sit here and do nothing.

"If I am not driving trains I could literally be round the corner at a hospital helping."

A man who has supported independent retailers in Durham city for three decades will be made an MBE.

The Northern Echo: Colin WilkesColin Wilkes

Colin Wilkes has been a director of Durham Markets Company since 1990 and its managing director since 1996.

Mr Wilkes, of Gosforth, Newcastle, is awarded an MBE for services to independent businesses in Durham and the North East, and promotion of the City of Durham.

He said: “I am both very proud and humbled to receive this honour, particularly as it relates to my two great passions, that is local independent businesses and Durham City, which I have been fortunate to combine during the 30 years I have worked for Durham Markets Company in the City Centre.”

A football coach who has worked tirelessly to promote women’s football and her community has been awarded on the Queen’s birthday honours.

For the last 15 years, Julie Scurfield has volunteered to pioneer and promote women’s and girl’s football in her community on Chester-le-Street, now she is being awarded the British Empire Medal.

The Northern Echo: Julie ScurfieldJulie Scurfield

Raising thousands Ms Scurfield won a Northern Echo Local Hero Award in 2018 for her efforts.

  • The Northern Echo will be featuring more on the above recipents individually on our website over the weekend.