New Year’s Honours for Lewes and Wealden residents

Jenny Clark with bat in rehab recovering from cat damage.
Jenny Clark with bat in rehab recovering from cat damage.

The screen writer of Hollywood blockbuster Gladiator, a woman who set up a bat hospital and a volunteer who supports hospice care in Sussex were among the people who were rewarded in the New Year Honours.

Author William Nicholson, who lives near Lewes, was made an OBE for his services to drama and literature.

William Nicholson

William Nicholson

Among his other films are Elizabeth: The Golden Age starring Cate Blanchett and Clive Owen and Grey Owl starring Pierce Brosnan.

He has also written novels such as the Wind Singer trilogy and The Golden Hour, as well as plays such as Shadowlands

Bill said: “I was suprised and delighted. With these awards you don’t know they are coming at all and you don’t know how they have come or why, so I have absolutely no idea who put me up for this. All I can say is: I’m very grateful.”

He explained there was currently some squabbling in the family about who would get to come with him to Buckingham Palace for the award ceremony, as numbers were limited to three guests.

The Oscar nominated writer said amongst his favourite work was the Wind Singer trilogy because it was his big break and meant he could become a full time writer, Gladiator because everyone had heard of it, Mandela: A Long Walk to Freedom and a series of books set in a village near Lewes, including The Secret Intensity of Everyday Life.

Kathy Gore, from Framfield, was made an OBE for services to the community in the Queen’s New Year Honours List.

Kathy, High Sheriff for East Sussex from 2011-12, is chair of the Friends of Sussex Hospices which has grown from an East Sussex based charity and now raises millions for the hospice movement across the county.

Their most recent initiative was a choral concert at Glyndebourne where ticket sales delivered £57,000 for the Sussex hospice movement

She said: “I had to read the letter telling me about the award about six times before I could believe it. It was a huge surprise but the work we do would not be possible without the dedication of the wonderful people who support us.”

Kathy is keen to help some of the county’s smaller charities – one of the functions of the Sussex Community Foundation, of which she is a trustee.

In 2013 she took part in her third London Marathon where she helped raise even more charity funding.

The founder of the Sussex Bat Hospital, Jenny Clark was thrilled when she found out she had been made an MBE for her services to Bat Conservation in the UK.

Jenny began the Bat Hospital at her home just outside Forest Row on the edge of the Ashdown Forest about 30 years ago.

The hospital has long term residents unable to fly well enough to survive in the wild that Jenny takes care of.

And the bats which pass the flying exam and show they will be able to fend for themselves are released once they are better.

The flying exam consists of the animals flying around Jenny’s living room where she looks for two things – can they fly for between 10 and 15 minutes without stopping and are they looking to escape as opposed to hiding.

Jenny said they were very misunderstood creatures, incredibly gentle and intelligent, adding they had suffered from intense population decline in the past.

East Sussex Wildlife Rescue Ambulance Service takes bats to Jenny, who has 30 years of experience in providing the specialist care the delicate animals need.

Jenny said: “I was honoured and it was very exciting.”

Sonja Le Vay, from Crowborough, was also made an MBE for services to the community in Crowborough.

And Chief Constable of Sussex Police Giles Tristan York. was given the Queen’s Police Medal.

He said: “It is an absolute privilege and honour to give so much to policing and to have it recognised in this way. “

Carolyn Randall fromHeathfield has been awarded the MBE for her work with the charity Crimestoppers.

Mrs Randall said: “I was thrilled, stunned. I gave my heart and soul to Crimestoppers but nothing would have been possible without volunteers. Without them I would not have received this award.”

Mrs Randall has been involved with the charity for 20 years.

She no longer works for them having been made redundant during austerity cuts in August this year. But she continues her ground-breaking work in a voluntary capacity.