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The New Year Honours were far from being just about sport. The achievements of hundreds of unsung heroes were also marked.
Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson, the soldier who conquered horrific injuries, was rewarded for his charity work.
The children's illustrator Quentin Blake became a knight and the singer Kate Bush was made a CBE.
Sascha Williams reports.
Ken Livingstone was offered a CBE in the New Year Honours but turned it down, he has said.
The former Mayor of London said he refused the gong for services to the Olympics because he does not think politicians should get honours.
"I was offered a CBE," the 67-year-old revealed on his show on LBC Radio.
"I don't believe politicians should get honours. You had this thing for years that any Tory MP who survived in house for 20 years automatically got a knighthood.
"You get the really disfiguring thing, these people who give thirty or fifty thousand pounds to a political party and then get an honour.
"I was paid very good money to be the Mayor of London and nothing beats the recognition you get when the people of the city elect you in the first place."
Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson of the Parachute Regiment, the most seriously wounded soldier to survive the war in Afghanistan, has been awarded an MBE in the New Year's Honours list.
He told ITV News that he will be, "on my best behaviour" when he goes to collect his award at Buckingham Palace:
Ben carried the Olympic Torch during its relay around the UK and has been given the award in recognition of his fund raising and charity work.
One notable name missing from the New Year Honours list is Danny Boyle the man behind the Olympic opening ceremony.
The Slumdog Millionaire and Trainspotting director is believed to have turned down the offer of a knighthood.
Former Strictly Come Dancing judge and choreographer Arlene Phillips has said that she is "absolutely thrilled" to receive a CBE.
She said, "I am very pleasantly surprised but mostly absolutely thrilled and delighted to receive such a wonderful honour".
Illustrator Quentin Blake, who has delighted generations with his work, particularly the images he created for many of Roald Dahl's books, has received a knighthood.
The artist, who has also published many books in his own right, said today that many of his overseas fans assume mistakenly that he is already a Sir.
"The funny thing is that my books are published a lot in France and Germany and I get a lot of letters from people there who think I have got it already, so I suppose this kind of regularises it," he said.
"I haven't quite got used to it yet, but I'm very pleased about it.
Artist Tracey Emin, whose journey from controversy to respectability has been marked with a CBE, said receiving the honour felt like being "pushed in at the deep end".
The 49-year-old, who grew up in Margate, Kent, is perhaps best known for her work My Bed, which featured an unmade bed littered with condoms, cigarette packets and a pair of knickers.
Asked about her award of the CBE, she said: "I think they pushed me in at the deep end. But I'm absolutely thrilled. It's been insane trying to keep it a secret but I'm really looking forward to seeing the look on my mum's face.
"For me this honour is a symbol of how art can change people's perception of life and view the world in a different way."