The So Magazine New Year’s Honours

The So Magazine New Year’s Honours



Each January, the New Year’s Honours List is revealed – whereby new members of orders of chivalry and recipients of other o fficial honours are named. These honours recognise the achievements and service of extraordinary people across the United Kingdom, and consists of knights and dames, appointments to the Order of the British Empire and gallantry awards to servicemen and women, and civilians.
While we don’t have the power to knight anyone, we are able to highlight some of the outstanding efforts that go on in our local community, and recognise those who go above and beyond in their towns and villages. Read on to discover who’s made our New Year’s Honours list…



After losing a number of relatives to cancer, Pilates instructor Genevieve trained for eight months with Macmillan and achieved her level 4 cancer rehabilitation certification so that she could help others who were suffering. Now, she runs ‘pink ribbon Pilates’ sessions in Tenterden – for free. These classes, which take place in the Town Hall help women who are in various stages of breast cancer to stay mobile and motivated, and Genevieve hopes that in the near future she’ll be able to run the sessions weekly.



West Kent Mind president Pat Downing has volunteered for good causes for over 40 years, having begun in 1976 when she was a restless housewife who wanted to help the community. She set up the Beach Mont Club in Sevenoaks, a day centre for people who were physically and mentally handicapped, offering them craft clubs and events to bring them together.
Since then, her passion for charity has never wavered, and last year at 82 she became the deserving winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award at Sevenoaks District Council’s Voluntary Awards.
Pat wants to encourage other people to volunteer for good causes, saying: “Do it for the love of doing it, that’s the only way you can do it. You can’t do it because you are forced to. You do it because you want to and it really is so worthwhile. It’s the best thing you can do, it enriches your life.”
To nominate a person, voluntary organisation or group, visit Nominations open from Monday January 16.



As co-founder of the Pickering Cancer Drop-In Centre, Polly Taylor has been helping those touched by cancer since 2004. The Tunbridge Wells-based charity helps around 3,000 people a year, providing holistic, therapeutic and emotional counselling, and is run entirely by volunteers. In 2013 Polly was awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for her voluntary service to people in Kent affected by cancer, and in 2015 she was recognised at the Women of the Year awards.
Every day she continues to inspire and bring positivity to those who might be struggling to find some. While she’d be the first to commend her wonderful team of volunteers, we thought it was about time Polly got some recognition, too.



What began as a way to show her daughter Mollie that there are children less fortunate, ended in a hugely successful project for Caroline Baker, who co-ordinated The Big Wrap and Foodbank Appeal in Tenterden. When she discovered that there wasn’t a shoebox or gift appeal to go to families in the local area, she decided to organise one herself in time for Christmas. Joining with St Mildred’s Church on their Christmas Cheer fundraising campaign, by the end of the drive they’d had almost 200 gifts donated to give to disadvantaged local children, as well as collecting items for the Ashford Foodbank, and seeing £3,775 in donations to the church, which were used to buy Tesco vouchers for the families. Now, Caroline plans to make the appeal an annual event.



Creator and founder of Littergram, Danny Lucas from Wrotham has had a busy few months. As well starting a war on waste by launching his popular app where users can report rubbish to councils, he’s also had another battle on his hands. Instagram, the photo-sharing app owned by Facebook attempted to make Danny change the name of his brand, saying it was ‘not acceptable’. Throughout 2016 he fought with the social media giant over the usage, and thankfully at the end of the year he finally received the news that the case had been dropped.
Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council became the UK’s first local authority to adopt the app’s free portal connecting them directly to users in the district, and the initiative has been widely praised. Danny’s idea to tidy up Kent is one we’re supportive of – let’s hope in 2017 we see even less litter on our local streets.



Not only does Dave support families as a Family Liaison Officer at St Barnabas’ School, he’s also heavily involved in the local community, as the Chair of CREATE (the Camden Road Education, Arts and Theatre Enterprise) and the annual Winter Lantern Parade. From CREATE’s inception seven years ago, which began with a community play, there is now a community choir, book group and theatre projects.
Dave dedicates a great deal of time, energy, and most importantly, inspiration to the local community and is a vital link between education and creativity.



One of the reasons Tunbridge Wells looks as beautiful as it does, is down to Katharina Mahler-Bech. She and her late husband were the drivers behind resurrecting the Royal Tunbridge Wells in campaign in 2010, whereby neglected areas of the town are transformed into beautiful gardens, and local businesses and locations can enter into a competition.
Katharina has served on the committee from the very beginning promoting Bloom to local businesses. As well as managing the Tunbridge Wells in Bloom web page, she’s also always willing to volunteer on the practical tasks, and helps to ensure Tunbridge Wells in Bloom happens every year.