New Year honours in Northumberland
Local leaders in health, education and business are among those to receive New Year honours.
Sue Pearce, CEO of Rape Crisis Tyneside and Northumberland (RCTN), was shocked and delighted to receive a Member of the British Empire (MBE) Award for her work with women who have experienced sexual violence.She said “I have had a very rewarding career at RCTN and I never anticipated it would be topped by such an accolade.”Sue started her career in Rape Crisis in 2001 when she became a volunteer counsellor for the Rape and Sexual Abuse Counselling Centre based in Darlington. She subsequently also volunteered as a Trustee for the organisation.She moved to RCTN, (or Tyneside Rape Crisis Centre as it was called then) in 2003 to take up a part-time paid counsellor role before moving in 2009 into a full-time role. She has provided women with over 5,000 hours of counselling and support. Since she started, RCTN has increased from a team of three to a team of 19.
In 2009, Sue was one of the team instrumental in enabling RCTN to offer services in Northumberland. She moved into a part-time CEO role in 2013 and this has expanded over the years such that in 2019, this will become her full-time job.In the last few years Sue has increasing become involved in supporting women with the issues they face in accessing a fair outcome from the criminal justice system. She was part of Vera Baird’s (Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner) Court Observer Panel looking at the progress of rape cases through Newcastle Crown Court and of the PCC’s independent panelinvestigating complaints about the police. Through this her knowledge of the barriers women face navigating the criminal justice system has developed and she has used this to great effect to support the development of RCTN’s specialist Practical and Emotional Support service (a service supported by the PCC).Sue is currently championing the need to improve support for older women who experience sexual violence and is awaiting the outcome of a major bid which will raise awareness of specific the problems older women face and provide support for them to overcome the sometimes devastating impact of sexual violence and abuse.She said: “Many people will find it hard to understand, but I love my job: I find it challenging and fulfilling. I am saddened and frustrated at the stories I hear from our clients, but I know that RCTN helps many of them to live a better life beyond the sexual abuse. It has been a privilege of working with women who were prepared to share their stories of abuse with me: I couldn’t have developed the knowledge I have without them. And, of course, I could not do what I do without the wonderful support of the organisation’s trustees, staff and volunteers. Thank you all."
Shirley Anne Atkinson, formerly vice-Chancellor at The University of Sunderland, receives an OBE for services to Widening Participation in Higher Education. (Hexham).
She resigned after four years in the role last summer due to a change in circumstances at home, having spent six years prior to that as deputy vice-chancellor.
At the time, she said: "It has been an enormous privilege to have led the university for the last four years. With the support of dedicated, exceptional staff we have achieved significant outcomes for our students. We have grown our UK student base by over 16% in the last year and witnessed significant growth at our campuses in London and in Hong Kong. The university makes a huge contribution to the social, economic and cultural life of the region, and I will watch with pride as it continues to grow and thrive in the years ahead."
John Lawlor, chief executive of Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, receives an OBE for services to the NHS.
James Ramsbotham. chief executive of North East England Chamber of Commerce, receives a CBE for services to Business and to the Economy in the North East.
The Chamber has almost 3,000 members and delivers a range of business membership services, especially international trade advice.
He served as a non-executive director on the Board of the Darlington Building Society for nearly 12 years and retired in December 2017 after four years as chairman.
Previously James was vice chairman of the Esh Group – the North East construction group. Prior to that, he spent 14 years corporate banking in Barclays Bank plc, latterly as marketing director and had 12 years soldiering in the Royal Green Jackets.