New Year reasons for some cheer

SCARCELY had the announcement been made of the latest New Year’s Honours before certain quarters were accusing UK PM David Cameron of ‘cronyism’ for allegedly favouring his own.

SCARCELY had the announcement been made of the latest New Year’s Honours before certain quarters were accusing UK PM David Cameron of ‘cronyism’ for allegedly favouring his own.

According to the Independent, the ‘row’ threatened to overshadow a shift in the distribution of the awards, which for the first time saw more women than men receive public recognition.

In many respects, it is unfortunate that raw politics enters into the awards system because there is a risk that it could detract from them.

In Guernsey’s case, however, there will be genuine joy that two thoroughly deserving candidates have been honoured for similar – but opposite – reasons.

Home-Start coordinator Jane Le Conte received a British Empire Medal for services to the local community while Bridge2… founder Sarah Griffith receives her MBE for off-island charitable work.

Both are highly deserving of their awards and most islanders will regard them as precisely the reason why the honours system exists – to recognise the work that so many do for so little thanks because they are fulfilling an unmet need.

In Ms Griffith’s case, the unmet needs have been tragically all too visible – Sri Lanka, Haiti and more recently the devastation caused by the hurricane in the Philippines – and it is incredible that this one-woman powerhouse has raised more than £1.5m. largely from this community to help others who have nothing.

Mrs Le Conte’s role may have been lower key but no less vital. Her work is with families and children and particularly with the relationship between them in the areas of adoption, separation and divorce.

Just as physical needs have to be met through charities like Bridge2…, so emotional ones have to be as well. And it is disturbing that emotional and mental health issues, especially among the young, are on the rise as people struggle to find their place in a fast-changing, ever-online world.

In some respects, the awards are a reflection on this community, too, highlighting islanders’ outward-facing generosity plus their concern for the individuals who make up the island.

These are New Year’s Honours in which we should all have pride.