Queen's Honours for work in Tower Hamlets


People from Tower Hamlets have been honoured for their work in the community in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Libraries champion Gillian Harris, foster care manager Emdad Talukder, campaigner Sandra Scotting, housing association chair Steve Douglas and scientist Professor Mark Caulfield have all been recognised with honours.

Gillian Harris (pictured above) started work with Tower Hamlets in 1991 and in that time has built and developed the Schools Library Service, which provides a range of services including books, artefacts and other educational resources to staff to enrich their teaching.

Emdad Talukder who has worked for Tower Hamlets Social Services Family Placement Services for nearly twenty years was recognised for his services to fostering.

Sandra Scotting, is the Secretary of the Stairway to Heaven campaign that successfully secured a permanent memorial to those lost in the Bethnal Green tube disaster when 173 people lost their lives. 

Steve Douglas has worked in housing for over thirty years. He chairs One Housing, a major Tower Hamlets social landlord and is a former Chief Executive of the Spitalfields Community Housing association. Steve also does consultancy work in the housing sector.

Gillian, Emdad and Sandra all receive MBEs, Steve receives a CBE, and Professor Caulfield has been knighted. The recipients will soon receive their honours at Buckingham Palace.

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets said: “I pay tribute to the great work of these well-deserved recipients who have worked tirelessly in our community for many years. I’m delighted they have been honoured and recognised with these awards.”   

Gillian Harris said: “I am amazed and deeply humbled to be awarded an MBE and proud on behalf of all the many very hardworking and dedicated people I have worked alongside in my career. This award is for all my colleagues here in Tower Hamlets too.”

Emdad Talukder said: “I’m very proud at receiving this awardas I have worked in fostering services for nearly 20 years in Tower Hamlets. It’s important that the work engaging minority communities with fostering is recognised. I pay tribute to colleagues in Tower Hamlets who work so hard right across our children’s services.”

Sandra Scotting said: “I am pleased and honoured to receive this award on behalf of everyone who helped on the campaign. This is for them as well.”

Steve Douglas said: “I am delighted to receive this award. My career started in Tower Hamlets and it is a major part of my career.” 

Mark Caulfield, Professor of Clinical Pharmacology at Queen Mary University of London has pioneered genomics, a study of DNA which helps understand disease and improves diagnoses of cancer patients.

Professor Mark Caulfield said: “I have been incredibly lucky to stand amongst and alongside giants from our NHS, Genomics England, our universities, the government, our funders and most importantly, our participants. I am deeply honoured and thank every one of those who made this possible.”

Councillor Danny Hassell, Cabinet Member for Children, Schools, and Young People said: "These are such well-deserved awards recognising many years of service supporting Tower Hamlets’ high quality primary schools, our excellent fostering services, housing, health and a key community campaign."

Gillian has spent her whole career in library services including doing voluntary work overseas helping establish a branch library in Brikama, Gambia. 

She instigated the professional librarians in primary schools service in 2004, to provide schools with librarians on a regular basis. The library service to primary schools offers an effective way to ensure children have access to a range of good and exciting books. It also helps schools access the services of a professional librarian and promotes reading programmes to support teachers.  

Emdad has worked in the community and children’s services for over 30 years in various roles across London. He has worked for the council’s fostering service since 2001. In that time Emdad has personally fostered five children.

Sandra lost relatives in the Bethnal Green tube disaster. She campaigned and fundraised with the Stairway to Heaven campaign for many years before a permanent memorial was erected at Bethnal Green tube station in 2017.

The memorial was opened by the Mayor of London, the Mayor of Tower Hamlets and Rushanara Ali, MP. Sandra has also fundraised for other charities for over 50 years.


Posted on Thursday 13th June 2019