New Year’s honours for North West pioneers in food, finance, tech and telecoms

Tristia Harrison, chief executive, TalkTalk

Tristia Harrison, group chief executive of TalkTalk Group has received a Damehood for services to telecommunications in His Majesty King Charles III’s New Year’s Honours List. 

With over 20 years in the sector, and over seven as chief executive of TalkTalk Group, the official citation refers to her time “leading the UK’s only scale affordable broadband provider through the pandemic, providing critical national infrastructure to keep millions of customers connected.” It also refers to the “significant attention” she has dedicated to “recruiting, promoting and inspiring more women into the technology sector, something for which she was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Salford in 2022.”  

Her commitment to charitable work was also reflected in the nomination, including her current role as Chair of Trustees at Crisis (the National Homelessness Charity) and over 10 years on the Board of Comic Relief, as well as her roles as Honorary Trustee at Ambitious about Autism and co-founder and chief executive at Internet Matters, the online safety charity.

She said: “I am humbled to have been nominated for this honour. I have spent over 20 years in Telecoms and as a team at TalkTalk we have been proud to champion affordable connectivity, invest in Greater Manchester and encourage more women into telecoms and technology.

“I would like to thank everyone at TalkTalk, in UK telecoms and across the various charities I’ve worked with for this prestigious recognition.” 

Katie Gallagher, Manchester Digital

Also honoured in the North West tech scene was Katie Gallagher, managing director of Manchester Digital, founder of the NW Cyber Resilience Centre and chair of UK Tech Cluster Group, said: “I was incredibly surprised to hear I was receiving an OBE. I’m very proud to work with the amazing teams at Manchester Digital and the NWCRC, as well as our innovative tech community in the North West, which is only going from strength to strength.”

There is also recognition for Andy Bell, the founder of financial services success story AJ Bell, who has been awarded a CBE. He said:  “I was surprised and humbled to receive this honour. I’m very proud of what we have achieved at AJ Bell, helping people invest in their futures and being a major employer in the North West. But it’s very much been a team effort and this award should really be shared with the many wonderful colleagues that I’ve worked with over the years.”

Jenny and Nick Johnson, the force behind the transformation of market halls around the country – though pioneered in Altrincham – are to be awarded MBEs for services to business and to the food sector. “It’s been one of the most exciting and rewarding periods in our lives and a delight to spend so much time amongst so many talented people. For that to be recognised by an honour each, is a privilege,” they said.

Jenny and Nick Johnson

Celebrated chef Simon Rogan, from L’Enclume in Cartmel was also awarded an MBE for services to the Food Industry to add to his many Michelin stars, while Paul Hollywood, Baker and Television Presenter was honoured with an MBE for services to Baking and to Broadcasting.

Joanne Roney

There were honours for senior local government figures in Greater Manchester Joanne Roney, chief executive of Manchester City Council becomes a CBE, while the soon-to-be-retiring chief executive of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority Eammon Boylan is to receive an OBE, as will Antony Lockley, Director of Strategy and Assistant Chief Executive, Blackpool Council.

Eamonn Boylan’s OBE was in recognition of his 42 years of public service, and a career spanning roles in local government in Stockport, Manchester, Sheffield and London, including as Deputy Chief Executive of the Homes and Communities Agency.

Amongst his most significant achievements has been realising the Mayor of Greater Manchester’s vision for an integrated London-style public transport system – the Bee Network.

He said: “As I look ahead to my last few months at the GMCA and TfGM, I will take immense pride in all that we have achieved here. Those achievements are the foundations of this honour, for which I am sincerely grateful.” While Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester, described Boylan as “a towering figure in local government” who has given him “steadfast” support: “From spearheading our devolution deal to delivering the biggest transformation of public transport since the 1980s, his contributions to this place simply cannot be overstated.”

Liz Gorb, MMU

Manchester Metropolitan University’s tireless champion of apprenticeships, Liz Gorb, was awarded an MBE. She has driven degree apprenticeships at MMU since 2012. Under her leadership, the university has grown from offering one qualification to 58 apprentices at 15 employers to a suite of 18 programmes, 2324 apprentices and 557 employers.  

Peter Buchan, managing director, shipping, Nuclear Transport Solutions gets an MBE for services to the Nuclear Industry and to Young People as does Joanna Swash, group chief executive officer, Moneypenny for services to the Economy, and Dr Charles Woodburn, chief executive of BAE Systems for services to International Trade and Skills Development.

In Lancashire, Recycling Lives’ charity chief executive Alasdair Jackson was recognised with an MBE which follows an award by The Howard League at its Community Awards in November. He leads the charity and social enterprise teams and has delivered the impressive growth of Recycling Lives’ leading offender rehabilitation programme, which is the most successful of its kind in the UK.

Michael Pemberton with wife Sarah Pemberton

The Chief Executive of one of Cumbria’s leading regeneration organisations, Michael Pemberton, chief executive of BEC has been awarded the Medal of the Order of the British Empire (BEM).  Since taking over in early 2015 the former British Army officer has overseen the acquisition of key sites in Whitehaven and the redevelopment of the former Bus Station in Whitehaven – a nationally recognised, multi-award-winning scheme.

Academic stars Professor Philip Diamond, the director general of Square Kilometre Array Observatory was awarded an MBE for services to Global Radio Astronomy while Professor Danielle George, Professor of Radio Frequency Engineering at the University of Manchester was upgraded to a CBE.

Regional sports stars also featured, notably Mary Earps, the Manchester United and England goalkeeper and BBC Sports Personality of 2023, the former England rugby union captain and a skipper on BBC TV’s soon to be axed Question of Sport, Bill Beaumont is to receive a GBE – a Knight Grand Cross – to go with his knighthood and CBE, for services to Rugby Union Football and to Charity. 

Rugby League star Kevin Sinfield, who was born and always lived in Oldham, has been awarded an CBE for his efforts to raise funds for the Motor Neurone Disease charity, alongside former Leeds Rhinos teammate Rob Burrow.

Michael Eakin has been awarded an OBE for services to music and the community in Liverpool. He has been Chief Executive of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, one of the UK’s most forward-looking music organisations, since 2008. Music and mental health work has flourished under his leadership; Liverpool Philharmonic and Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust have been working in partnership for over 11 years, delivering programmes in Mersey Care in-patient settings and the local community.