A self-published author, a charity worker combating loneliness and a refugee from Uganda are among the south-west Londoners awarded MBEs in the New Year's Honours List.

1. Tony Lit

Surrey Comet:

The 45 year-old managing director of Sunrise Radio said he would be wearing a traditional “top hat and tails” to the investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

Mr Lit, of of Ham Common in Richmond, has been made an MBE for his services to the British Asian community after having spent 20 years in radio.

Mr Lit helped move Bollywood, Bhangra and Asian-inspired music into the mainstream and launched a free academy for aspiring radio presenters.

The academy welcomes over 200 young enthusiasts each year to give them their first professional experience in radio.

The managing director said: “There have been many successful broadcasters who started at Sunrise Radio.

“My life’s work has been around that. Giving the British Asian community a voice through news, information, community events."

Mr Lit, who described himself as a "traditionalist and big royal fan" said he previously met the Queen during a "special lunch" in 2005.

2. Jenny Hughes

Surrey Comet:

Charity worker Jenny Hughes, from East Sheen, has been awarded an BEM for her work combating loneliness and social isolation among Richmond and Wandsworth’s elderly and vulnerable population.

As director of the charity FiSH Neighbourhood Care for 17 years, she helped offer activities for people who may be socially isolated, such as shopping trips and outings, monthly lunchtime concerts, a social listening group and a club for those with memory loss.

Ms Hughes was also instrumental in raising money to buy two £60,000 buses which work daily to connect people with these activities.

She said: “I have loved working for this very special organisation.

"Over the years, I have been grateful to many people in the community and local organisations who have supported, advised and encouraged me in building FiSH from where it was when I joined, to what it is today.

"Most of all I have been able to work alongside a fantastic team of totally dedicated staff. I am grateful to them all, this honour would not be possible without all these wonderful people."

She retired as director in February 2018 but continues working with FiSH in an ambassadorial and advisory capacity.

3. Carol Mcdermott

Surrey Comet:

Croydon resident Carol Mcdermott said she was “shocked and surprised” to have been awarded an MBE for her services to young people and diversity in literature.

The self-published author of two books, Magic Scarf and Who am I, has dedicated her career to empowering young women and people from BAME backgrounds.

Ms Mcdermott founded Unlimited You in 2017 to offer workshops for young women to help them develop the self-confidence they need to fulfill their potential.

The 50-year-old former business analyst said: “I became ill overnight with stroke-like symptoms. At the time, they were not sure what it was. I lost speech and memory for six weeks.

“I decided I could not go back to doing my normal 9 to 5. What I did then was doing a law degree to keep my brain active. From there, I started to write from my bed.”

Ms Mcdermott, of Shirley Road, said she has been struggling to keep the news of her award a secret from her family over the holidays but the happy news of her daughter’s engagement has helped stave off any suspicion from relatives.

4. Michelle Ann Blunsom

Surrey Comet:

Michelle Ann Blunsom, 39, who is to be made MBE for her services to survivors of domestic abuse and their families in Surrey, said she has "always been motivated by fighting injustice."

The Sutton based chief executive of East Surrey Domestic Abuse Services said: "My dad was a police officer and my mum was a nurse. They never shielded me from the fact that there's bad stuff in life."

With 18 years of experience in her field, she is responsible for making sure survivors of domestic abuse have access to advice and support in order to break the cycle of abuse, and help to rebuild their lives.

In her role, Ms Blunsom has also trained hundreds of police officers and staff in different areas of domestic abuse legislation and introduced domestic safety tool kits.

Ms Blunsom said: "It's a privilege to do my job. I do not feel like every day I am doing something amazing. I do it because I am privileged to work with survivors and kids.

"Without survivors of domestic abuse and their children being brave enough to trust me with their experiences I would not have been able to do any of the work I am being recognised for.

"My greatest achievement is having had the privilege of supporting and knowing so many survivors who through their bravery have inspired me to keep fighting for their voices to be heard."

Ms Blunsom said she hoped to take her parents, partner and brother with her to the ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

She added: "I have told my parents on Christmas Day and had to swear them to secrecy. They cried and they are incredibly proud."

5. Balraj Tandon

Surrey Comet:

Balraj Tandon, from Croydon, said he burst into tears at the news he was to be made MBE in recognition of his services to business and the south London community.

The 59 year-old emigrated to the UK as a refugee from Uganda in 1975 with his family and has come to build one of the largest independent family petrol station businesses in the UK.

Mr Tandon said his parents would have been "absolutely overjoyed" at the news, particularly given the award "came from the Queen", adding: "We are royalists and we love her so much."

The dad of four said his children have asked him to take them to the investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace but the answer would depend on the number of guests allowed per recipient.

Mr Tandon began working at his local petrol station with his father and from this single petrol station built Park Garage Group which has an annual turnover of £200 million.

The company offers vocational training schemes for all staff and provides assistance in English language lessons. They also offer paid apprenticeship schemes and regularly fundraise for charities.

He is a trustee of the Friends of Baale Mane, which was founded in 2001 to combat child labour for girls in Yeshwanthpur in India.

He is also lead trustee of the Hindu Society Centre in Wandsworth, which promotes the Hindu religion and looks after south London’s Hindu community.

6. Diana Parkinson

Ms Parkinson has been at the forefront of providing support for disadvantaged women in prisons for over twenty years through Merton charity, Birth Companions, which she co-founded in 1996.

She has continued to support as a Chair of Trustees, a role she has held since 2001. She was inspired to establish the charity after a group of antenatal teachers were moved by a campaign to stop the use of handcuffs for women in labour.

The charity provides practical and emotional support to pregnant women and new mothers in prison. Her influence has had enormous impact on improving the treatment of female prisoners giving birth, and the high success of the programme has led to an extension of this service across two prisons in London and in Peterborough.

Birth Companions has also further extended its support for women who have been trafficked, abused, or face other serious challenges in their lives, working closely with local authorities to receive referrals, and has been highly innovative in also offering support via an online training service for midwives. 

It is widely recognised as the UK's leading organisation in its field, with high expertise in responding to the needs of perinatal women facing severe disadvantage in prison, and its success has been driven by her dedication and continuous leadership in an entirely voluntary capacity.

Her compassion and commitment has inspired over 60 people to volunteer for the organisation, and their work has been vital in giving support to the approximately 600 pregnant women incarcerated in the UK every year. Her work was recognised with a Points of Light Award in 2017 for exceptional voluntary service.

7. Elizabeth Booth

Surrey Comet:

Elizabeth Booth, from Wandsworth, retired from Dalmain School, Forest Hill, in August 2018. She had led the school for 18 years and worked there for 21 years, transforming it from an undersubscribed and unpopular primary school into a vibrant learning centre at the heart of its community with a particular passion for music and drama. 

Her notable achievements include the remodelling of a patch of wasteland to the side of the school into a football pitch, as well as the provision of free music lessons for disadvantaged children throughout the school.

Under her leadership, Dalmain became well known for its imaginative collaborations with immersive theatre groups, orchestras and dance professionals, all aimed at giving the children a broad and balanced education. 

The school, which serves one of the top 20 per cent most deprived areas in England, according to the Index of Multiple Deprivation, also pioneered a graduate trainee scheme that has allowed it to ‘grow its own teachers’, as a response to the teacher recruitment crisis.

Ms Booth said: “I cannot express how thrilled I am to have received this truly unexpected award. The transformation of Dalmain School into a popular and thriving centre for learning is the result of the hard work, energy and passion of so many people, so I feel that I am accepting it, not just for me, but also on behalf of all the exceptional teaching and support staff at Dalmain.

“In the course of my 18-year stint as Dalmain’s headteacher, I saw eleven Education Secretaries come and go. Only too often, they have been more concerned with the furthering of political agendas than they have with improving Britain’s schools. 

“At Dalmain, though, we have stood firm in the face of political pressure, providing an arts-based curriculum that reflects our belief that education is about more than just ticking boxes.

This award is testament to Dalmain’s determination to give all of our children the best possible experience, whether they are at the school for one day, or for seven years.”