Bradley Wiggins, the mod from Kilburn who made sporting history by winning the Tour de France and an Olympic gold this year, is knighted in the 2013 New Year Honours.
Sir Bradley heads a sparkling list of sporting heroes, including sailor Ben Ainslie, who gets a knighthood, para-cyclist Sarah Storey, who is made a dame, and Jessica Ennis, Victoria Pendleton, Mo Farah and David Weir, who all get CBEs.
Affectionately known as Wiggo, the first British winner of the Tour, said: “It’s quite something really. I never imagined that I would ever become a knight so it’s an incredible honour but there’s a slight element of disbelief, and it will take a while to sink in.
“There was never any doubt whether I’d accept it or not, it was more a case that I never saw myself as a sir, and I probably never will.”
The sporting stars who achieved so much at London 2012 meant a special honours list was added this year.
There was also recognition for those behind the Games. Lord Coe, who becomes a Companion of Honour, while Jean Tomlin, who led the Games Maker programme, gets an OBE.
Sir Bradley’s knighthood is undoubtedly the icing on the cake in a year which saw him win the Tour de France, take Olympic gold in London, then be crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
In the West Country those honoured include the three equestrian stars from Gloucestershire – Charlotte Dujardin, from Newent in the Forest of Dean, who gets a CBE, and MBEs for Carl Hester and Laura Bechtolsheimer, who lives in the little village of Ampney St Peter near Cirencester.
MBEs will also be handed to Deborah Criddle, the para-equestrian star from the village of Trull, near Taunton, and Peter Wilson, the charming double trap shooter who hails from Glanvilles Woott, near Sherborne, in Dorset. His coach Ian Coley, who runs a gun shop in Cheltenham’s High Street, also receives an MBE.
And of course Ben Ainslie’s feats are finally recognised with the knighthood sailing demanded.
Ainslie said: “This is an incredible honour. When I set out Olympic sailing 20 years ago, I never would have dreamt this would happen.”
CBEs go to some of sport’s biggest household names – rower Katherine Grainger, heptathlete and London 2012 poster girl Ennis, cyclist Pendleton, wheelchair athlete Weir, and Farah, who captured the nation’s hearts with his double gold in the 5,000m and 10,000m.
OBEs go to equestrian Sophie Christiansen tennis hero Andy Murray, paralympic swimmer Ellie Simmonds and cycling couple Laura Trott and Jason Kenny.
Among those to get MBEs are boxer Nicola Adams; canoeist Timothy Baillie; rowers Katherine Copeland and Helen Glover; wheelchair racer “Hurricane” Hannah Cockcroft; and paralympic swimmer Josef Craig.
Triathlon gold medallist Alistair Brownlee gets an MBE but brother Jonathan, who took bronze, misses out, while the MBE also goes to Welsh tae kwon do gold medallist Jade Jones, Paralympic poster boy Jonnie Peacock, long jump hero Greg Rutherford and gymnast Louis Smith.
The honours also recognise those who contributed to London 2012 in a “non-sporting capacity”, although Danny Boyle, creator of the epic opening ceremony, is missing amid speculation he turned down an honour. Also honoured are those who ensured the South West’s Olympic events ran smoothly – an OBE for Anna Payne, Weymouth and Portland manager, and an MBE for Simon William, the head of 2012 Operations at Weymouth and Portland Borough Council, who lives in Dorchester, Dorset.
Away from sport, the Companion of Honour goes to the former Bristol schoolboy Professor Peter Higgs, namesake of the Higgs boson or so-called “God particle”, which was finally proved to exist in July, 48 years after he first proposed it. There is a knighthood for illustrator Quentin Blake and CBEs for artist Tracey Emin, choreographer Arlene Phillips and singer/songwriter Kate Bush. Former Strictly Come Dancing judge Phillips said: “I am very pleasantly surprised but mostly thrilled and delighted to receive such a wonderful honour”.
Tony Blair’s wife Cherie is given a CBE in recognition of her service to women’s issues and to charity in the UK and overseas. Former England cricketer Mark Ramprakash gets an MBE. Metropolitan Police commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe gets a knighthood while Jonathan Evans, head of MI5, is made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath. Recognised with an MBE in the Diplomatic and Overseas list is Captain Raymond “Jerry” Roberts, one of the four founder members of Bletchley Park’s Testery section, tasked with breaking the German top-level code Tunny.
An MBE also goes to Penelope Clough, 53, who set up the Justice For Jane Campaign with husband John after her daughter was murdered by her ex-partner in 2010 while he was on bail.