11-year-old fundraiser among the voluntary sector figures recognised in New Year Honours

Tobias Weller has raised more than £150,000 for The Children's Hospital Charity and Paces School

Tobias Weller

An 11-year-old charity fundraiser is believed to have become the youngest recipient of a British Empire Medal in the latest New Year Honours.

Tobias Weller has raised more than £150,000 for The Children’s Hospital Charity and Paces School, which he attends. 

Weller, who has cerebral palsy and autism, has been under the care of the hospital charity in his home city of Sheffield since birth. 

He was inspired by the record-breaking fundraising exploits of Captain Sir Tom Moore, initially setting out to raise £500. 

His fundraising activities include a year-long “ironman” challenge, consisting of 180km on his trike, a 4km swim and a full-length marathon. 

Another young recipient of a BEM in the New Year Honours is 12-year-old “tent boy” Max Woosey, who has been sleeping under canvas since March 2020, raising more than £600,000 for North Devon Hospice in the process. 

The honours include a damehood for Diane Lees, director-general of the Imperial War Museum, and knighthoods for Alistair Spalding, chief executive and artistic director of Sadler’s Wells Theatre, and Peter Murray, founder and outgoing executive director of Yorkshire Sculpture Park. 

There were CBEs for Jan Tregelles, chief executive of Revitalise, which provides respite holidays for disabled people and carers; Kate Mavor, chief executive of English Heritage; Sally de la Bedoyere, former chief executive of the animal welfare charity Blue Cross and the now-defunct Public Fundraising Regulatory Association; and Martin Coles, chief executive of the Marine Society and Sea Cadets. 

The same honour went to Lisa Burger, outgoing executive director and joint chief executive of the National Theatre; Alistair Jarvis, outgoing chief executive of the membership body Universities UK; Adrian Vinken, outgoing chief executive of the Theatre Royal Plymouth; and John Gilhooly, artistic and executive director of Wigmore Hall. 

Voluntary sector figures to receive OBEs include Beth Breeze, director of the Centre for Philanthropy at the University of Kent; Amanda Bringans, formerly director of fundraising at the British Heart Foundation and a former chair of the Chartered Institute of Fundraising; Maddy Desforges, chief executive of the local infrastructure body Navca; and Philippa Charles, director of the grant-maker the Garfield Weston Foundation.

The same honour went to Dan Hayes, chief executive of the care charity the Orders of St John Care Trust; Victoria Hornby, chief executive of Mental Health Innovations; Steve Orr, chief executive of the Northern Ireland-based innovation charity Catalyst; Matthew Patey, chief executive of the research charity the British Skin Foundation; Paul Reddish, chief executive of Volunteering Matters; and David Peppiatt, director, humanitarian cash assistance, at the British Red Cross.

OBEs also went to Mike Sharrock, chief executive of the British Paralympic Association; James Watson-O’Neill, chief executive of the deaf health charity SignHealth; Sharath Jeevan, founder and former chief executive officer of the international NGO Stir Education; Lynne Morris, chief executive of the children’s charity Toybox; Jennifer Ogole, founder and chief executive of the young people’s charity Bang Edutainment; and Julius Wolff-Ingham, head of marketing and fundraising at the the Salvation Army UK and Republic of Ireland.

Scores of voluntary sector individuals received MBEs, including Mhairi Sharp, chief executive of the National Emergencies Trust; Kim Shutler, chief executive of the mental health charity The Cellar Trust; Gareth Batty, chief executive of the food recycling charity FareShare Yorkshire; Sofia Buncy, co-founder and national co-ordinator of the Muslim Women in Prison Project; and Bernadette Conlon, founder and president of the Salford-based mental health charity Start. 

MBEs also went to Seamus Gaynor, head of executive and company secretary at The Birmingham Children’s Trust; Graeme Hamilton, former deputy UK chief commissioner at the Scouts; Chris Hickford, founder and chief executive of the children’s and young people’s support organisation The Eikon Charity; Rashid Iqbal, chief executive of children’s charity The Winch; and Helen Jones, chief executive of the LGBTQ+ mental health charity MindOut. 

Among the others to be awarded the same honour were Tim Lawler, chief executive officer of SportsAid; Janet McDermott, former head of membership at the Women’s Aid Federation England; Norman McKinley, executive director of UK operations at British Red Cross; and Victoria Miles, chief executive of the Northamptonshire Community Foundation. 

The Cabinet Office said 63 per cent of the 1,278 people to receive an award were recognised for outstanding work in their communities, either in a voluntary or paid capacity. 

It said 15.1 per cent of recipients were from an ethnic minority background, making it the most ethnically diverse honours list for the fourth time running. 

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