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Social media expert in ‘state of happy confusion’ over New Year’s honour

Former Evening Standard editor Veronica Wadley also among the gongs

04 January, 2018 — By Tom Foot

Sabrina Francis

A LABOUR councillor was in a “state of happy confusion” after being named in the Queen’s New Year Honours list for her role as a social media officer.

Sabrina Francis was awarded the British Empire Medal for “services to the University of London” after being nominated by colleagues at City University in Islington. “I feel incredibly honoured they considered nominating me. Then to go on and get the award is more than I imagined,” the Bloomsbury councillor said. “They nominated me for my work in my role as social media officer, and the work I’ve done to help build a stronger community. I’ve just been really shocked. It’s a great thing to end 2017 with, but it’s not something I ever expected so I’ve been in a bit of a state of happy confusion.”

City, a member institution of the University of London, said she had been recognised for sterling work that had transformed “online presentation of its graduation ceremonies”. She set up an online magazine for prospective students and CityUniWomen Network, which has 150 people on its mailing list.

Camden’s other award-winners include Nicholas Dobrik a volunteer with the Thalidomide Trust who lives in Hampstead and was recognised with an MBE for services to “people affected by thalidomide”. A survivor of the 1950s scandal, he has been campaigning for more than 30 years.

Broadcaster Lord Melvyn Bragg of Wigton was recognised for his services to broadcasting and the arts by becoming a Companion of Honour, as was author and historian Lady Antonia Fraser, DBE, honoured for services to literature while Alexandra Shulman, a former editor of Vogue magazine who lives in West Hampstead, gets a CBE for services to fashion journalism.

A consultant at the Royal Free, Dr William Dunning, now has an MBE for heading up crucial clinical research work during the ebola crisis in Sierra Leone.

Marc Vlessing, chief executive of Pocket Living – which provides small homes for single people in Kentish Town and elsewhere – who lives in Camden Town, got an OBE for services to housing delivery. London School of Economics professor Tim Besley was knighted for services to economics and public policy as was LSE sociology professor Richard Sennett.

Hampstead impresario Lilian Hochhauser, who pioneered discount family concerts at the Royal Albert Hall and was a champion of Russian artists from the mid-50s, is now a CBE, for services to the arts and cultural relations.

Chairwoman of the Arts Council Veronica Wadley – a former editor of the Evening Standard who also worked as an adviser to Boris Johnson during his time as London mayor – received an OBE for services to the arts.

Bob Paterson, a former director of the British Paralympic Association from Hampstead, was given an OBE while Dr Demis Hassabis, co-founder and chief executive of DeepMind, a company owned by Google which courted controversy after it was given access to 1.6million Royal Free patient records in 2016, scooped an OBE.

Meanwhile, Dr David Prout, former director general of HS2 rail project, was recognised with an Order of the Bath. All members of the House of Commons high-speed rail select committee – who heard and largely ignored the concerns of Camden residents about the rail link – have now received gongs through the honours system.

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