Arise Sir Kenneth: actor knighted in queen's list


BELFAST-BORN actor Kenneth Branagh has been knighted in the queen’s birthday honours list. He joins fellow actors Kate Winslet, Jenny Agutter and Amanda Redman in the list of those honoured. Singer Gary Barlow, golfer Luke Donald and fashion designer Sarah Burton – who made Kate Middleton’s wedding dress – will also receive honours.

Dozens of men and women from the North have been singled out for their contributions to business, education, the arts and their communities.

Edgar Jardine, interim chief executive of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, has been awarded the Companion of the Order of the Bath – the next most senior accolade after a knighthood – along with Stormont civil servant Alan Shannon.

Among those given OBEs and MBEs are the North’s senior veterinary officer, Brendan McCartan, Edward Vernon of Invest NI, Robert McFerran of Regent House grammar school in Co Down, Margaret McMullen of the Electoral Office NI, Clare McGartland of the Public Health Agency, Heather Monteverde of Macmillan Cancer (NI) and Marian Moutray of the school of nursing and midwifery at Queen’s University.

Three PSNI officers have been awarded the Queen’s Police Medal while, in what may be a first, Francis O’Hagan is recognised for services to the Traveller community.

The 2012 birthday honours list sees the reintroduction of the British Empire Medal, sometimes described as the “working-class gong”, which was revived by British prime minister David Cameron. Recipients include retired English middleweight boxer Terry Downes.

Oscar-nominated Branagh – who now can be called Sir Ken – has enjoyed a long and varied career, starting out in Graham Reid’s acclaimed Billy plays on BBC Northern Ireland.

He has acted in and directed many Shakespearean dramas, both on stage and screen. Recent successes include playing Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton, directing superhero film Thor and acting in a remake of Swedish TV crime series Wallander.

Originally from east Belfast – his family moved to England to escape the Troubles – Branagh has always supported local talent. He returned to the city last year to perform at the newly reopened Lyric theatre.

Branagh is joined on the list by other stars of stage and screen, including Barlow, who was involved in the queen’s recent diamond jubilee celebrations.

Choirmaster Gareth Malone, who took part in the jubilee concert with his Military Wives Choir, will get an OBE.