Kingston computer historian, nurse and volunteer get New Year honours

An academic who masterminded an 18-year project to recreate a 19th Century computer, a dedicated nurse and an 84-year old volunteer are among Kingstonians rewarded in the New Year's Honours List.

Dr Doron Swade, 64, is a leading academic in computer history and a world renowned expert on the work of English mathematician Charles Babbage and has been awarded an MBE for services to the history of computing.

Dr Swade, a former curator at the London Science Museum, said: “I am hugely flattered and very, very grateful.

“I've always said honours and acknowledgements are the result of good work and I just try to do good work.”

Dr Swade masterminded a project to build a working replica of one of Babbage’s ‘calculating engines’ from the original 19th century plans and negotiated the acquisition of rare computers including a Russian Cold War supercomputer and the last working totalisator in the country for the National Computer Collection.

He said: “The history of computing is a relatively obscure but massively important field and so this award is wonderful for the field.”

Nobody would begrudge 84-year-old Irene Clark for taking it easy at her time of life but she has spent 40 years as a dedicated volunteer at Worcester Park's Royal British Legion.

Upon finding out she had been awarded an MBE for voluntary service, Mrs Clarke dedicated the honour to her late husband Dennis who was president of the club, in Central Road, before he died in 2007.

She said: “I am absolutely shocked but absolutely delighted at the honour.

“I wish it was for my husband as he had been involved in the club since 1940 but I know he would have been very proud of me.”

Mrs Clark, a great-grandmother who lives in Sheephouse Way , New Malden, has a dazzling list of responsibilities including secretary of the women's section, treasurer of the Surrey division of the Royal British Legion and a member of the welfare and entertainment committees.

She said: “I have no idea who nominated me – nobody is saying a word but I was so overwhelmed to receive the letter saying I was in line for the award.

“Everyone at the club is a tremendous bunch and it is a great place to be.”

Nurse Alison Finch has dedicated nearly 20 years to the profession and has been recognised with an MBE in the New Year's honours list.

The Kingston-based nurse works at University College Hospital London (UCLH) as a sister in the haematology and bone marrow transplant unit as well as a senior nurse in the children and young person's cancer unit.

She said: “I do work hard, I try my best and I want to live my life with a sense of purpose but so many people work hard so it was very humbling to receive the honour.”

Alison got her first taste of the profession when working in a nursing home in New Malden during her A Levels and has been a nurse since graduating from Bournemouth University in 1993.

The former Coombe Girls School pupil, 36, has travelled to Azerbaijan to work in a refugee camp and has just been awarded a scholarship by the Florence Nightingale Foundation to conduct a study of nursing in India.

Also honoured are John Lulham from Surbiton, head of contracts and procurement at Transport for London who receives an MBE for services to equality and diversity, Dennis Burge, a heating engineer at Hampton Court Palace receives the Royal Victorian Medal and Jill Johnstone from Kingston, director of policy at the National Consumer Council who receives an OBE for services to consumers.

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