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Honours even?

The New Year’s Honours list revealed interesting definitions of what it is to be heroic. Sports men and women like Wiggins, Ennis and Ainslie were granted top honours and Lord Coe became a Companion of Honour, a special honour given for service of conspicuous national importance and limited to 65 people at any one time.

However, some other sportsmen and women weren’t included in the select band of heroes. Being Northern Irish was not to be a hero of any kind while Paralympic athletes weren’t considered to be as heroic as their able-bodied counterparts.

Of course, in one sense it could be said Paralympians were the most heroic, leaving aside their athletic prowess. Former Paralympians like Tanni Grey-Thompson and Stuart Brae spoke out against the Government and Atos’s treatment of disabled people. Even more courageous were 2012 Paralympians like Tara Flood and Sophie Christiansen who criticised the Government while others spoke out in support of the Disability Living Allowance. Many Paralympians seemed reluctant to display their Atos badges during the Opening Ceremony for the Paralympic Games.

It may also not have helped that Disability campaigners were among the most vocal protesters during the Games. And then there was the public humiliation of Cameron and Osborne when they were handing out medals.

Alongside Coe, with his award for service of conspicuous national importance, was the former head of the Financial Services Authority, Hector Sants, in charge of regulation at the start of the credit crisis, who was knighted. Given that they and a variety of sporting ‘heroes’ got knighthoods and CBEs, one might be forgiven for wondering what honour could be given to a hero who actually helped to shorten a war. The Foreign Office's diplomatic and overseas list included codebreaker Raymond Roberts, who had to wait almost 60 years for his MBE for services to Bletchley Park. The decrypting team is said to have shortened the War by two years. The rest of his team remain unrecognised.

To be real heroes they should have got on their bikes.


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