Serota and Kapoor get top awards in Queen's Birthday Honours

By Jennifer Lipman, June 15, 2013
Sir Nicholas Serota (Photo: Tate)

Sir Nicholas Serota (Photo: Tate)

Anglo-Jewry's contribution to cultural life was recognised this week as the director of Tate, the sculptor Anish Kapoor and the founder of the Jewish Film festival were included on this year's Queen's Birthday Honours List.

Sir Nicholas Serota, the Hampstead-born art expert who oversaw the establishment of the Tate Modern, was made a member of the order of the companion of honour, a prestigious award conferred for "services of national importance". Sir Nicholas, who was knighted in 1999, becomes one of only 65 people at a time to hold the honor, and follows in the footsteps of Lucian Freud and Harold Pinter.

Eight years after the first UK Jewish Film Festival, its founder and director Judy Ironside was made an MBE for services to drama. The veteran stage and film actress Claire Bloom, seen most recently as Queen Mary in The King's Speech but famous for roles in films including Look Back in Anger, opposite Richard Burton, was awarded a CBE.

Kapoor, who was born in Bombay to an Iraqi Jewish mother, and whose work is displayed around the world , including in Israel, was knighted, while art collector and philanthropist Janet Wolfson de Botton was made a dame for charitable services to the arts. Mrs de Botton, the granddaughter of Great Universal Stores managing director Sir Isaac Wolfson, chairs the Wolfson Foundation, which offers grants to promote excellence in a range of fields.

Thomas Heatherwick, designer of the London 2012 Olympic cauldron, whose Jewish grandmother fled Nazi Germany to come to London, described being made a CBE as "an immense honour".

Angela Cox

Angela Cox

"My passion is the public world around us that we share with each other," he said. "I'm proud to have had the chance in recent years to work on public projects of national significance."

Theatre school founder Anna Scher was made an MBE.

Others were honoured with CBEs for their philanthropic and charitable contribution, including Dr Leonard Polonsky, who in 2010 pledged £1.5 million to Cambridge University to build an online collection of rare books, including important ancient Jewish texts, and Merseyside businessman Max Steinberg, who as chief executive of Liverpool Vision has been a key figure in the city's regeneration.

The former Liverpool King David High governors' chair, who is currently spearheading Britain's first museum marking mass immigration, including the journeys of thousands of Jews escaping the pogroms, expressed surprise at receiving the honour. "I'm working with an excellent team," he said.

Norma Brier, former Norwood chief executive, was made an OBE for services to children and people with learning disabilities, which she said was "a great tribute to Norwood and its wonderful services," .

She added that the honour also reflected her work as chair of the national Learning Disability Advisory Group and trustee of Children England.

Other recipients of awards included British Jewish jeweller Laurence Graff with an OBE

Aldenham parish councillor Gillian Balen, who has been heading patients ' panels at hospitals in her area for more than a decade, was made an MBE for services to health and the community in w est Hertforshire . "The best thing is that the person who nominated me felt it was necessary – that means more than the award," said Mrs Balen.

Breast cancer survivor Angela Cox, who now guides women suffering from the disease, was made a medallist of the order of the British empire. "I never could have imagined this when I was diagnosed – I didn't even think I would be alive," she said.

David Newman, an academic and dean of Ben Gurion University, received an OBE for services to higher education and promoting academic links between the UK and Israel.

Haim Levy, president of the Gibraltar Jewish community, was made a CBE, while Jewish philanthropist Michael Moritz, chairman of Sequoia Capital, whose father fled Nazi Germany for Britain, was made a KBE.

Last updated: 12:45am, June 15 2013