LITERARY hero Philip Pullman will soon become Sir Philip after being awarded a knighthood in the New Year's Honours list.

He is among 22 people in Oxfordshire to be honoured by the Queen in the latest awards, and thanked his army of fans for their loyalty.

The county recipients in this year's list, who between them have dedicated countless years to an array of different causes, will receive MBEs, OBEs, BEMs and knighthoods.

IN FULL: New Year's Honours - full list of Oxfordshire winners

Cumnor celebrity Mr Pullman, 72, said he was 'very surprised and honoured' to be awarded a knighthood.

The author, who penned the fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials as well as last year's follow-up La Belle Sauvage, said: "Many people I admire have been happy to accept a knighthood or damehood, and I am proud to be in their company.

"I'm immensely grateful to those who have worked so hard over many years to edit, publish, illustrate and sell my books, and to the Society of Authors, which does so much for the profession of authorship.

"I'm most grateful of all to those who continue to read my books."

Mr Pullman has based many of his novels in Oxford, and filming took place in the city centre earlier this year for the BBC's television adaptation of His Dark Materials.

He added: "I believe the profession of letters should be recognised as having a proper place in the life of the nation, along with science, and sport, and music, and scholarship, and many other human activities."

La Belle Sauvage, the first instalment of the author's newest series The Book of Dust, is based in an alternative Oxford and features the Covered Market, Pitt Rivers Museum, Bodleian Library and Wolvercote pub The Trout Inn.

Also among those receiving an honour this year is Shabnam Sabir, who has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for her work helping the homeless and young people in East Oxford.

She said: “The first thing I had was an official letter in the post. It was such a shock, I had to have someone else read it and explain what it meant.”

The 44-year-old said the news was ‘still sinking in’ and it had been hard to keep the news secret from everyone but family.

Ms Sabir said: “I think it will feel more real once everyone knows.

“My family are very proud and I think it is nice for them to see all the hard work has been recognised. A lot of my family – my parents, children, brother and sister and niece and nephew - all help out with my charity work so they’ve been involved in the whole thing anyway.”

She added: “They have all been reminding me about that help for when it comes time to pick who comes with me to Buckingham Palace in the summer.”

Ms Sabir is being given the award due to her work setting up the Oxford Homeless Project in 2015 after giving out dishes to the city’s homeless during Ramadan, the annual month of fasting observed by Muslims.

The mother-of-four rallied a team of volunteers together and created the charity, which now provides a fortnightly lunch on Mondays at the Asian Cultural Centre, off Manzil Way in East Oxford.

Three years on, the project feeds at least 50 homeless people, with around a dozen volunteers helping out at each meal.

The group celebrated its third anniversary last month with a party for volunteers and supporters.

She said: “I think the impact of the charity is that people are a lot more aware of homeless people in East Oxford. They don’t feel as reluctant to go up to people on the streets and say hello rather than just ignoring them.”

Ms Sabir, who lives in Headington, also organises the Oxford Eid Extravaganza, which brings people of all faiths in the community together for the Islamic festival, and also has a passion for education, working with young people by organising summer schools and youth groups to help give children things to do outside of school.

She has been involved with education for 18 years and currently works as the head of Sixth Form at EMBS Community College in Cowley.

Also on the list of local heroes being honoured is the driving force behind the North Oxfordshire-based charity Startup, which helps ex-offenders and disadvantaged young women turn their lives around.

For more than a decade former investment banker Juliet Hope has been working to provide women who have been in prison new hope and skills to get back into work.

Mrs Hope has been awarded an MBE for service to the Rehabilitation of Women Offenders and those at Risk of Offending.

The mum-of-two, from Bucknell near Bicester, said: "It is wonderful, especially as recognition of the charity's work and the team, which includes trustees and peer mentors, I can't wait to share it with them all."

The most recent charity project 'Startupnow for Women' has worked with more than 1,200 women who have been in prison, to offer them business advice, equipment and materials, and mentoring to reduce reoffending. Not a single cohort in the project has offended.

In the 12 years since Mrs Hope - who won an inspirational woman of the year award in 2011 - founded the business, those who have been supported have gone on to run their own businesses including catering, glass making, interior design, floristry and cleaning services.

Mrs Hope said: "Self employment is a really good way for these women to get back into the community, become self dependent and reintegrate themselves back into work.

"One of our more recent projects over the past two and a half years in Oxfordshire has included working with young women, particularly those facing challenges, using mentors who have previously worked with us.

"This way they are working with people who can say they have been in their position, and look where they are now."

The charity, which works across the county, is expanding work into Buckinghamshire after receiving funding, but is working to find more funding to support the continuing demand in Oxfordshire.

Mrs Hope also found out when she received the letter on her doorstep announcing the honour to be bestowed on her by the Queen.

She added: "I am genuinely honoured and proud [to have been awarded the honour]. It really is about the charity recognition though, often people who have been in prison or a young person who may have taken the wrong turn, don't get the chance to turn their life into the right direction."