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New Year awards for heroes who transform young lives

PUBLISHED: 16:21 06 January 2010 | UPDATED: 11:45 12 August 2010

PEOPLE who have helped change the lives of children were among those honoured by the Queen in the New Year List. A headteacher, charity worker and a music teacher were just some of the people included in the honours list. Jeanne Kaniuk, of Fairby Road,

PEOPLE who have helped change the lives of children were among those honoured by the Queen in the New Year List.

A headteacher, charity worker and a music teacher were just some of the people included in the honours list.

Jeanne Kaniuk, of Fairby Road, Lee, was awarded the OBE for her work as head of adoption services at Thomas Coram Foundation for Children.

Ms Kaniuk has spent the past 30 years helping to find suitable families for some of the most vulnerable children involved with social services.

She said: "Quite often their parents might have mental illness or drug and alcohol problems, so they have not been able to look after themselves properly and so their children are neglected.

"It's immensely satisfying to see a child flourishing in a stable family.

"They are coming from a background where they have been let down so it's very important to make sure the relationship they have with a new family is one that will last.

"It's quite extraordinary to receive the OBE. Very gratifying."

Also on the list was Lesley Morrison, from South Norwood, who received a CBE as headteacher of St Martin-in-the-Fields High School for Girls, in Lambeth.

Since taking over as headteacher 11 years ago, she has seen the school's academic results rocket from 30 per cent for five GCSE A-C passes to 84 per cent.

She said: "My ambition was to take this school, just south of Brixton, to become one of the best performing in the country, to buck the trend and show it is wrong to stereotype black children as underachievers.

"I am honoured to receive the award but slightly embarrassed as I'm just doing my job. Headteachers have a hard job - they should all be awarded the CBE!"

There was an OBE for Peter Carne, from Woolwich, who is programme manager for Growing School, a project focusing on using outside study and the promotion of environmental sciences.

Director of Music at Haberdashers' Aske's Hatcham College, John Skinner, from Eltham, received an MBE for services to education.

Olivier Award-winning actress Margaret Tyzack, from Blackheath, was awarded the CBE for services to drama. The actress most recently appeared alongside Dame Helen Mirren in Phedre at the Royal National Theatre in 2009, a year which saw her win a Lawrence Olivier Award for the second time.

City of London police constable since 1977, Belinda Harding, 51, of Stanley Avenue, Beckenham, was awarded the MBE for her work in helping rough sleepers and giving personal safety talks to company staff.

PC Harding said: "I didn't think I would get the award. I'm absolutely delighted. It's nice to be recognised for something I love doing."

Others receiving MBEs included HM Revenue and Customs worker Matilda Akhigbe, from Chislehurst, and David Dallison, from Abbey Wood, for public service. Awards will presented at Buckingham Palace later this year.

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