COMMUNITY champions from across the Black Country and West Midlands have been named in the Queen’s New Year Honours list.

Each year, the Queen recognises the extraordinary achievements of people from all walks of life and all ages.

In addition to these people who really make a difference to the lives of those around them, this year’s list includes special mention of those who have continued to go above and beyond in supporting each other during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kathryn Mary Beale, from Bilston, has been awarded a BEM for services to the communities of Dudley and Sandwell.

The 44-year-old set up Just Straight Talk in 2012, a community project-based organisation providing help and motivation to young people.

The organisation tackles social problems of homelessness and unemployment, supporting access to services, training and new skills.

She is currently managing six projects across Dudley and Sandwell enabling individuals to gain access to welfare support.

When the pandemic broke, she immediately registered her support as a key volunteer. She secured funding to purchase tablets for people who had no other way of communicating with others and purchased PPE gear and issued masks, hand gels and gloves for her community.

She also set up online coffee mornings and bought fish n’ chips for the vulnerable.

She said: "I was humbled and honoured to hear of the BEM award, it means the world to me to be recognized in this way.

"Working to support communities and people across Dudley & Sandwell to lead better lives is incredibly rewarding and I am grateful to them and all of the staff team and partners that support what we do at Just Straight Talk"

Richard David Port, solicitor at George Green and Company, has been awarded an MBE for services to victims of domestic abuse

The 30-year-old from Stourbridge has links with Women’s Aid, Trident Reach and Derbyshire WISH, all of which he supports in giving free advice and being on call.

He spent his weekends visiting refuge and contact centres initially in Derbyshire providing pro bono advice for those not able to access legal aid as well as giving talks to members of Freedom Programme.

He created a phone line so that domestic abuse organisations could contact him directly to get assistance or a confidence check that the solicitor representing their service user was acting correctly.

As Covid took hold he realised he needed to do more for those trapped in lockdown with abusers and unable to access help so he delivered his local training on a national scale to different organisations in webinars.

His pledge to help domestic abuse victims has contributed to his election to the Birmingham Law Society Council where his work continues.

He said: "I have spent many years on my own, helping and campaigning for support for organisations and fighting domestic abuse in the legal arena.

"It has been a passion of mine and I have driven to helping victims who are bullied by their perpetrators, without any intention of receiving recognition for this at all."

Elsewhere, Rose Cook-Monk, from Dudley, was awarded a BEM for services to the community in Dudley.

Kinver's Laura Manning Shoaf, Lately Managing Director, Transport for the West Midlands, was awarded a CBE for services to Economic Regeneration in the West Midlands.