Queen’s Birthday Honours 2018: Knighthood for Gosmore’s Prof Les Ebdon

Prof Les Ebdon, who has received a knighthood in the Queen's Birthday Honours. Picture: Mark Simmons

Prof Les Ebdon, who has received a knighthood in the Queen's Birthday Honours. Picture: Mark Simmons - Credit: Archant

A chemistry professor from Gosmore is to be knighted for his efforts to open the doors of higher education to all.

Prof Les Ebdon, who was director of Fair Access to Higher Education from 2012 until this March, has received a knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List “for his services to higher education and social mobility”.

Prof Ebdon, 71, was previously vice-chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire from its creation in 2006 – and was in this post in 2008 when he was appointed CBE for services to higher education.

When about to become fair access tsar in 2012, he told MPs he would not be afraid to use the “nuclear option” of blocking universities from hiking fees if they failed to admit more students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

He never ended up using this powerful sanction, but told Times Higher Education this year that he more than once came within hours of doing so. In the past decade, the number of 18-year-olds from the most disadvantaged districts starting university has risen by 73 per cent.

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Also honoured is Knebworth bestselling author Ken Follett, who has been appointed CBE for his services for literature and charity.

Mr Follett, whose offices are in Stevenage, said: “I am very pleased and proud to receive this honour for doing something I love – making books and stories as entertaining and accessible as possible. Reading is a hugely important part of my life and I am glad to have helped others to enjoy it too.”

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Hitchin’s Suzanne Greaves, who works for the Department for International Trade, has been appointed OBE for services to government legislation.

There is a British Empire Medal for Herts Fire and Rescue Watch Commander Joanne Todd, from Biggleswade, for her services to the Prince’s Trust Team programme in Herts.

BEMs have also been awarded to Gladys Dawson, for services to charity and the community of Clifton in Bedfordshire, and Stevenage-based missionary Christabel Cofie.

Christabel, 59, has changed the lives of thousands in Ghana and the UK in her work with the Elim International Church. She has tirelessly led volunteers in Ghana to provide clothing, food, and healthcare in the poorest communities, and helped more than 10,000 people get vaccinated against polio over three years.

Back home in Stevenage, she supports teenagers and people affected by homelessness.

Marie Gabriel, who chairs the East London NHS Foundation Trust that also operates mental health services in Bedfordshire, has been appointed CBE.

Others knighted in the list include retired footballer Kenny Dalglish, historian Simon Schama and author Kazuo Ishiguro.

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