Peter Wilson and Ben Ainslie rewarded for Olympic triumpth in New Year's Honour List
Dorset's Olympic hero Peter Wilson has been warded an MBE as London 2012 stars dominate the New Year's Honour List.
Ben Ainslie has been knighted and Olympic sailing organiser Simon Williams, from Dorchester has also been recognised with an MBE.
Ainslie, who won his fourth Olympic gold at Weymouth and Portland this summer said: “This is an incredible honour. When I set out Olympic sailing 20 years ago, I never would have dreamt this would happen.
“I couldn't have achieved this honour without the support of all the people who have helped me throughout my career and so I hope they can also take some pride in this moment.”
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They won the hearts of the nation, claimed record numbers of medals and created moments that will live long in the memory.
And now the sporting heroes who made 2012 so unforgettable will enjoy another hurrah, as Olympic and Paralympic athletes dominate the New Year honours list.
On top of the list is the man who conquered France and brought home Olympic gold before securing cycling’s first Sports Personality of the Year accolade. Bradley Wiggins gets a knighthood to go with his gold medals and Tour de France yellow jersey.
In the West Country, a trio of equestrian athletes catch the eye: Gloucestershire’s Charlotte Dujardin has a CBE and there are MBEs for Carl Hester and Laura Bechtolsheimer. There are also MBEs for Dorset Olympic shooter Peter Wilson and para-equestrian Deborah Criddle, from Somerset. Rower Alex Gregory, from Cheltenham, who won gold in the men’s fours this summer, will be rewarded with an MBE.
A leading organiser of the West Country’s contribution to the Olympic and Paralympic Games, Simon Williams, who masterminded the sailing events in Weymouth, is also recognised with an MBE.
Away from sport, among those honoured in the West Country are an inspirational teacher, a renowned artist and dedicated foster carers. Dozens in the region have been saluted – with the freshly introduced British Empire Medal putting the spotlight on those who are often overlooked.
A total of 1,223 people were recommended to the Queen for an award, 1,068 at the level of MBE, OBE and the British Empire Medal, which was reintroduced after 20 years this year to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Women make up 47 per cent of the total list, which includes 13 dames.
Awards for sport make up 10 per cent of the total honours, with a special London 2012 and Paralympic Games list created to recognise the nation’s sportsmen and women.
Para-cyclist Sarah Storey was among them, the only sportswoman to be made a dame. Dame Sarah is honoured for services to para-cycling after winning four gold medals at London 2012.