Aviva boss Amanda Blanc and retail guru Mary Portas among business figures in new year honours list | Business

About 25 people have been awarded honours for services to business in the new year honours list, with others working in business cited for other elements of service in public life. Two of the main honours were handed to business people who were big donors to the Conservative party: the Wetherspoons boss, Tim Martin, and the Addison Lee founder, John Griffin.

Among the most notable recipients of honours in the business world were:

Amanda Blanc

The 56-year-old chief executive of Aviva becomes a dame commander, cited for services to gender equality and to net zero as well as business. Blanc’s three years at the helm of the insurer, after having previously led Axa, has seen the share price rise. Her interventions elsewhere have been perhaps even more notable: from being the first FTSE 100 firm to publicly withdraw from the CBI after allegations of sexual offences, blowing open attempts to cover up a bullying scandal in the Welsh Rugby Union, and then being an instrumental part of the BP board who recently ousted the disgraced boss Bernard Looney.

Stephen Hester

A knighthood goes to the executive, 63, who chairs the airline easyJet and the Nordea bank, and first became a CEO of a FTSE 100 company nearly 20 years ago at British Land. Hester’s biggest role came after the financial crisis in 2008 when he was brought in to the bailed-out Northern Rock as deputy chair, and then moved to take the helm as chief executive of Royal Bank of Scotland. He was credited with stabilising the bank and readying it for a return to the private sector, leaving in 2013 to run the RSA Insurance Group.

Gerald Ronson
Heron boss Gerald Ronson is honoured for services to philanthropy and the Jewish community. Photograph: Micha Theiner/City AM/Rex Feat

Gerald Ronson

One of the most well-known UK businessmen and pillars of the establishment in Thatcher’s 1980s finally gets a knighthood aged 84 – but not for business. The decade ended with Ronson, owner of the Heron property empire, being sent to prison as one of the “Guinness Four” in a share-trading scandal. The family lost a £1bn, according to Ronson, in the property crash. After serving six months in prison, Ronson embarked on a lifelong campaign to restore his name and business, making large charitable donations, and was first honoured with a CBE in 2011. His latest honour comes for services to philanthropy and the Jewish community.

Tristia Harrison

The chief executive officer of TalkTalk, Harrison, 50, is another new dame commander, for services to telecoms. Harrison led the broadband provider during the pandemic, when it worked with the Department for Work and Pensions to connect people with affordable broadband, “providing critical national infrastructure” according to the official citation, including contracts to connect the new Nightingale hospitals. Harrison is a chair of trustees at Crisis, and spent a decade on the board of Comic Relief.

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Ashley Tabor-King

The 46-year-old founder and president of Global gets upgraded from an OBE to a CBE for services to media and entertainment. The group, the largest commercial radio broadcaster in Europe, owns brands including Heart, Classic FM and LBC. Tabor-King also hit the headlines for owning what is thought to be the most expensive flat in Britain, a pair of Knightsbridge penthouses with linking doors after Westminster council knocked back the original planning application.

Mary Portas

The “queen of shops”, Portas, 63, is awarded an OBE for services to business, broadcasting and charity. Working in retail from an early age, she shot to prominence as a young creative director of Harvey Nichols and as the presenter of a series of TV shows about shops and shopping. She also helped rebrand charity shops and was made a “high street tsar” under David Cameron’s government, although she has expressed regret about how that role turned out.


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