A host of health workers from Northern Ireland have been honoured by Queen Elizabeth following a year in which they have led the fight against the Covid pandemic.

Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health Richard Pengelly was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath, an honour, he said he regards as recognition of the work of so many people in the health service.

The 2022 New Year Honours list also includes 85-year-old Jimmy Chapman, a porter at Lisburn Health Centre, who receives a British Empire Medal (BEM), and Wendy Anderson, a respiratory consultant at the Northern Trust, who is made an MBE.

Dr Anderson, who works in the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, said a lot of pressure during the pandemic fell on respiratory teams.

She said: "I work with a fantastic team of respiratory colleagues, a team of seven in Antrim and nine if you include Causeway. When this was coming, we all worked on our protocols and stepped up our weekends and everybody had everybody's back."

Mr Pengelly said: "This has been the most challenging role I have ever held, constantly pressurised, constantly difficult, but the high moments are so high in terms of some of the achievements, when we actually roll out a new service or make some inroads, because of the impact it has on people's lives.

"You're working with so many professionals who have dedicated a lifetime to studying, achieving professional excellence - it really is a leadership role rather than a doing role, trying to harness the huge potential of 65,000 people across our health and social care system.

"I have spent a lot of time trying to get out and around the system, to hospitals, GP practices, community services, and every single time I go out I come away humbled by the compassion, dedication and just sheer effort of colleagues at all levels across the system.

"Sometimes there is a lazy narrative that health and social care is really about the doctors and nurses, and the doctors and nurses are absolutely fantastic and I hold them in the highest regard, all our allied health professionals, our porters, the catering and cleaning staff, the administrators, finance, HR, they are all part and parcel of that continuum of health care.

"Hopefully part of this award is recognition for those people that maybe aren't in the spotlight, but without them we wouldn't provide healthcare."

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Mr Chapman was so surprised when he received his notification of the BEM that he originally thought the letter was a court summons.

He said: "I was really, really pleased that somebody thought that much of me to put me up for this award. I was delighted, over the moon. It is the first award I have ever got.

"It has all been a secret up to now, but it does mean a lot to me and it will mean a lot to my family."

This year's honours list also sees recognition for victims campaigner Kenny Donaldson, who is made an MBE, which he has dedicated to all innocent victims of terrorism.

And Sean McCarry, regional commander for the Community Rescue Service in Northern Ireland, is made an OBE.

He said: "For me it is very simple - this is a recognition not of myself but of the community who support the rescue service, the many volunteers, their families, for those, past and present, who have been involved, who built up this organisation."

Ian Marshall, the first unionist politician ever elected to the Seanad, has been honoured with an OBE.

He said: "I had no idea I had even been nominated, it came completely out of the blue.

"I was completely blindsided by this."

A number of sporting figures have also been recognised.

Former Olympian James McIlroy is awarded the BEM for services to sport.

Boxing coach Paul Johnston is made an MBE for his work as a mentor to hundreds of young people, and Fred Magee, club secretary for Harland & Wolff Harriers, also becomes an MBE.