THE WOMAN who oversaw the battle against the devastating 2014 floods n Oxford has been made an MBE.

Julia Simpson, the Environment Agency’s west Thames area manager, marshalled more than 700 people across the county and the Thames Valley in the winter of 2013-14.

The 54-year-old liaised with the emergency services and the Army for the co-ordinated approach to tackle the floods that brought the city to a standstill.

She said: “I’m surprised. It’s completely out the blue and such a great honour.

“I’m quite humbled as, with a lot of what I have done, the MBE could have gone to a lot of the people I worked with.

“My role was about strategy, trying to get the right people in the right places and support the communities that were so badly affected.

“We worked with the people worst affected and tried to do the best for them.”

Ms Simpson and the Environment Agency team orchestrated temporary flood defences such as barriers, sandbags and tarpaulins at various locations including East Street in Osney Island and Hinksey Lake in South Oxford.

Oxfordshire firefighters fought against the flooding in Botley Road and Abingdon Road with temporary barriers using their hoses filled with water.

Ms Simpson said: “I had one day off in a fortnight over the Christmas period and then the second waves hit again in February.

“Many members of my team worked 24/7 to make sure flood victims’ welfare was looked after.”

The Garsington woman said consecutive battles with the elements had improved the EA’s response and added weight to the case for a long-term solution in the shape of the Oxford Flood Relief Channel.

The proposed £125m scheme would run from the area around Seacourt park-and-ride off Botley Road to the River Thames at Sandford Lock, and divert water away from Oxford.

She added: “The good thing to come out of the flooding is we have been able to put together an improved proposal for the future.”

On the subject of the proposed flood relief channel Ms Simpson said things were progressing.

She said: “We have a series of public meetings over the next couple of months designed to educate people and give them a chance to comment on the scheme.

“If we have a big flood the channel is not going to just stop it but it will mean people’s homes are less affected and the roads in Oxford should flood a lot less often.”

Wendy Fidler

A GRANDMOTHER has been made an MBE for her work to improve interfaith relations in Oxford.

Wendy Fidler, 73, from Botley, could not believe the news when she opened a letter to reveal she was on the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

For the past 15 years – since retiring from working as a scientist and director of a cancer prevention project – she has devoted countless hours to educate and inform others about different faiths.

As a member of the Council of Christians and Jews [CCJ], Mrs Fidler has promoted the cultures and improved relationships.

The mother-of-three and grandmother-of-eight said: “I feel extremely privileged and very honoured. It’s not just personal, but it reflects the work and importance of the work done by the CCJ.

“We came back from holiday and found a letter and I couldn’t think what it could be for.

“I have been more involved in interfaith since I retired 15 years ago, but I cannot remember a time when I was not interested in interfaith relations.

“I got involved because I felt there was an increase in anti-Semitism over the past few years all over this county and in Europe and I thought I don’t want to just stand by and do nothing.”

Mrs Fidler is currently studying for a PhD in interfaith at the University of Southampton and hopes to continue her work by educating and raising awareness of different cultures.

She added: “I never thought this would happen. It never occurred to me.

“I was amazed. I had to read it again and again.”

Dr Heather McGregor

TO MILLIONS she is known simply as Mrs Moneypenny.

Channel 4’s accounting agony aunt, Financial Times columnist and best-selling author Dr Heather McGregor was last night made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE).

But Dr McGregor, of North Moreton near Didcot, was not honoured for any of the three jobs for which she is best recognised.

She was recognised for her services to diversity and employment.

Dr McGregor founded her communications industry recruitment agency Taylor Bennett and associated charity the Taylor Bennett Foundation, which helps black and Asian graduates get into the same industry.

The mother of three said she was “delighted” to be honoured.

She added: “There is no such sentence as ‘I can’t do it’ – the word to add is ‘alone’.

“The really important thing is that although I have done all these things, I couldn’t have done them without the support of many, many people.

“This CBE is really for the people who slave away in those organisations.”

She especially thanked her husband Rowan, whose job as Oxfordshire County Cricket under 14s coach has allowed him to hold down the fort at home.

Duncan Anderson

Oxford Mail:

DUNCAN Anderson has been made an MBE following a 21-month stint at Afghanistan’s National Army academy.

The 68-year-old head of war studies at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst was sent to Afghanistan to train the next generation of platoon commanders in the fight against the Taliban.

As the academic advisor at the academy in Qargha near Kabul, the North Oxford resident set up a training structure with the help of psychologist Dr Mike Rennie and Dr Edward Flint, who taught international relations.

The father-of-four said: “I was delighted. I didn’t expect to get one at all. I was just doing my job which was to re-establish the Afghan army.

“I could not have done the job without the help of Mike and Edward.

“We finished training our first set of cadets in September 2014 and I think they are the most effective platoon commanders the Afghan army has ever had.”

Dr Anderson said those men have subsequently fought well in Kunduz in the north of the country.

The Oxford University graduate also uses applied military history at Sandhurst, using the wartime experiences of Wellington, Montgomery and others, to train the next British Army Officers at Sandhurst.

But it is for his work in Afghanistan that the former Linacre College student has been made an MBE.

He added: “I love the country, it’s a beautiful place to get up in the morning.”

“If it could establish stability which I think it will, it could have a tourism interest second to none.”

Dr Anderson said his wife Professor Christine Gerrard, a professor at Oxford University, held the fort while he was on duty.

Prof Frances Ashcroft

A TOP Oxford scientist who was made a Dame for her medical research has paid tribute to the colleagues she collaborated with over the years.

Prof Frances Ashcroft, Glaxosmithkline Royal Society Professor at Oxford University, has been made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for “services to medical science and the understanding of medical science”.

The Trinity College fellow’s groundbreaking research into a rare genetic form of diabetes has enabled many patients born with the disease to switch from insulin injections to tablet therapy.

Professor Ashcroft said: “I have always said it is much better to collaborate than to compete and it has been a joy in my life to do that.”

Heather Shute

HEATHER SHUTE, from Milton-under-Wychwood, has been given a British Empire Medal (BEM) having spent 27 years working with dogs to improve the lives of the deaf and disabled.

The 71-year-old first joined Hearing Dogs for Deaf People 27 years ago before leaving in 2008.

The retired technician at Witney College then joined Medical Detection Dogs, which utilises a dog’s sense of smell to identify the odour changes associated with medical events, to run Oxfordshire’s fundraising branch.

Malcolm Leeding

A PARISH councillor has been made an MBE for 30 years’ service to the community.

Malcolm Leeding, who is in his 70s, became a parish councillor in 1980 and has served on Risinghurst and Sandhills Parish Council and Forest Hill with Shotover Parish Council.

He has been a part of Oxfordshire Association of Local Councils for many years and represented Oxfordshire on the National Association – the national equivalent of the Oxfordshire Association, since 1995.

On receiving the honour, he said: “I much appreciate it. It was quite a shock to me.

“I’m pleased about it and want to carry on doing what I have been doing. I appreciate whoever put me forward for it. I hope to continue in my role for another four years.”

Dr Angela Gallop

Oxford Mail:

HER first murder scene was the Yorkshire Ripper’s eighth victim and she sifted through microscopic fibres on Stephen Lawrence’s coat to help solve one of the nation’s most famous cases.

And last night, Dr Angela Gallop of Abingdon was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for services to forensic science.

Over a 41-year career that started with the Home Office Forensic Science Service, Professor Gallop has grown to be regarded as one of the world’s most eminent forensic scientists.

She now works in Lockinge near Wantage at the forensic consultancy business she helped found in 2010, Axiom International.

She said: “I count myself very lucky to have discovered a lifelong passion – in my case for forensic science, to have been able to indulge this passion through my career and now to be honoured for it in this most wonderful way. Of course, whatever I have been able to achieve has been due in no small part to continual and unstinting support from my brilliant teams of scientists.

“I am indebted to them.”

Michelle Ovens

THREE years ago Michelle Ovens set up a scheme to promote small businesses in their own communities.

Last year, her Small Business Saturday initiative attracted some 16.5 million people across the UK.

Last night, Mrs Ovens of North Moreton near Didcot was made an MBE for her services to enterprise and said she was “very excited” to be honoured.

She said: “Small businesses face a huge challenge.

Other recipients

* Ms Frances Anne Cairncross, DBE for services to higher education and to economics.

* Dr Elizabeth Goodwin, OBE for services to business resource efficiency and the environment.

* Elise Becket Lady Smith, OBE for services to music.

* Ms Katherine Arnold-Forster, MBE for services to university museums.

* Professor Patricia Leopold, MBE for services to higher education.

* Mrs Helena Wyatt, MBE for services to mental health nursing.

* Mrs Janet Elizabeth Haylett, BEM for services to the community in Long and Little Wittenham, Oxfordshire.

* Maurice Jason Humphris, BEM for services to the community in Banbury, Oxfordshire.

* Mrs Susan Mary Myatt, BEM for services to the community in Chadlington, Oxfordshire.