New year honours list recognises contributions from co-op sector

Former Co-op Group colleague Helen Webb was awarded an OBE for her services to equality, inclusion and wellbeing

The new years honours list includes a number of figures from the co-op movement, including a former Co-op Group executive and a key figure in the community energy movement.

Helen Webb, who served as the Group’s chief people and services officer from April 2017 to July last year, was made OBE for her services to equality, inclusion and wellbeing.

Commenting on Webb’s OBE, a spokesperson for the Group said: “We are delighted to hear that our former colleague Helen has been recognised in the new year honours, for her ongoing work in championing equality, inclusion and wellbeing within the workplace and throughout local communities in the UK.”    

One of the Group’s member pioneers was also honoured. Sandra Roscoe, who has been with the Group’s scheme fore than five years, receive the British Empire Medal for her voluntary work with the community in Rainhill and St Helens, Merseyside, during the Covid-19 pandemic. She helped out with the Rainhill Community Support Group, which provided valuable help to local residents, set up a WhatsApp group for mutual support, and contacted primary schools to get pupils to write letters of support with the elderly in the community.

“For me it is always about partnership work and teamwork,” she told the St Helens Star. “I don’t feel this award is for me, I feel it I for the wider team in Rainhill but I’m honoured to accept it on their behalf.”

From the community energy sector, Mike Smyth from Energy4All was awarded an MBE for services to the environment. Chair of Friends of the Earth until 2012, Smyth joined Energy4All in 2008 and has served in a number of voluntary roles for the sector.

A statement from Energy4All said: “It is fantastic that Mike has been recognised for his dedication and commitment in his roles in the energy and environmental sector, not only as part of the Energy4All team but also as part of the eight co-operatives where he serves as a board director.’

Smyth said: “I was thrilled to receive the MBE. What a lovely but totally unexpected surprise. I would like to thank the person or persons who nominated me.

“During my time working in the community energy sector we have faced many hurdles, but with the involvement of local communities and the wider renewable energy community, we have been able to create ground-breaking projects.

Related: Meet… interview with Mike Smyth

“Energy4All gives the power back to the people. Allowing them to own a stake in locally generated renewable energy. This, I believe is the way forward for our energy market.

“As a director of Energy4All it is a privilege to work alongside these groups and help them to develop and educate the next generation about the importance of renewable energy.

“I would like to thank my fellow directors and staff past and present at Energy4All for all their hard work and dedication.  We have a number of exciting projects in the pipeline and we are continually working hard to increase the community energy sector in the UK.“

Yiannis Kyriacos Moa

The honours list also included founder and CEO of Birmingham Tech CIC, Yiannis Kyriacos Moas, who will receive an MBE for services to the technology sector. Birmingham Tech CIC is a not-for-profit community business which aims to raise the profile of the Birmingham and West Midlands tech scene. 

Also receiving MBEs are the founders of Freehold CIC, David Mann and Saleem Fazal, for services to inclusion in the property industry. Freehold is a support and networking forum for LGBTQ+ professionals working within the real estate sector. 

David Mann and Saleem Fazal

Mann described their inclusion on the list as “a validation of all the hard work done by Freehold team members since its founding in 2011,” adding: “A lot of people have put in a lot of long hours to ensure that LGBTQ+ professionals feel more welcome and represented in the property sector.”