New Year Honours 2022: Knighthood for Tony Blair and Chris Whitty as medical experts recognised

Tony Blair (left), Prof Jonathan Van-Tam (middle) and Prof Chris Whitty (right) have both received knighthoods in this year's honours list. Credit: PA

The medical chiefs leading the UK's fight against coronavirus have been knighted in the New Year's Honours list alongside former Labour prime minister Tony Blair.

They are just a few of the names that can be found in the 2022 list, comprised of a range of figures spanning the worlds of science, sports, politics and entertainment.

British honours are given out for exceptional achievement or service and have taken on an added significance this year as the nation continues to battle the pandemic collectively.


England’s chief medical officer (CMO), Professor Chris Whitty, and deputy CMO, Jonathan Van-Tam, are among the four experts from the UK nations to be given knighthoods in recognition of their work.

The government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, who was originally knighted in the 2019 New Year Honours list, is elevated to a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath. Sir Patrick said: “I am really pleased to see so many outstanding scientists and engineers recognised in this year’s honours, including those that have been working tirelessly as part of the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Sir Patrick Vallance is given a higher honour, being made a knight commander of the Order of the Bath. Credit: PA

Scientists have played a central role in keeping the public informed during briefings throughout the year in response to Covid-19 and are being recognised for services to public health and science.

The Cabinet Office said nearly one in five (19%) of the honours are for Covid-related service.

There are also damehoods for UK Health Security Agency chief, Dr Jenny Harries, and Dr June Raine, chief executive of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), after a year in which more than 130 million vaccinations were administered.


Tony Blair, who was prime minister between 1997 and 2007, described being made a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, the oldest and most senior British Order of Chivalry, as an "immense honour".

The newly-styled Sir Tony said he was “deeply grateful” to the Queen and added: “It was a great privilege to serve as prime minister and I would like to thank all those who served alongside me, in politics, public service and all parts of our society, for their dedication and commitment to our country.” Elsewhere in politics, former Labour MP Frank Field, now a crossbench peer, has been made a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour for his public and political service. Lord Field of Birkenhead, 79, said: “I’m very honoured to receive this acknowledgement, it’s a terrific privilege considering the honour itself and what it represents. “Following the work I’ve done it’s a lovely thought from which to conclude this year.”

In October, Lord Field asked peers to support calls to relax the law on assisted dying as it was revealed that he is dying.

Sports Team GB’s Olympians and Paralympians who took gold in the Tokyo Games are among those named, including cyclists Jason and Laura Kenny, who are thought to be the first married couple to be recognised on the same honours list, receiving a knighthood and damehood respectively.

In August, Jason Kenny became the most decorated British Olympian ever after winning his seventh gold medal with victory in the men's keirin cycling final.

Laura Kenny holds the crown as Britain’s most successful female athlete, after becoming the first British woman to win gold at three consecutive Olympic Games.

Overall, the pair have won a total of 12 Olympic gold medals and three silvers. Credit: PA

And teenage tennis sensation Emma Raducanu has added another title after winning the US Open in September, as she can now say she is a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).

“It makes me immensely proud and grateful to be listed to receive an MBE from Her Majesty the Queen. This year has been full of amazing surprises for me so to end 2021 with this appointment is very special,” said Raducanu, who was voted the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year.

Emma Raducanu completed a meteoric rise to global superstar after her stunning US Open triumph in September. Credit: PA

The 19-year-old executed a sensational performance against Canada's Leylah Fernandez in September, becoming the first qualifier to win a grand slam singles title in the Open Era and all without dropping a set.

Diver Tom Daley, who won gold in the 10m synchro, will be made an OBE, while his partner, Matty Lee, will be made an MBE.

Strictly Come Dancing star Adam Peaty will be made an OBE and there is an MBE for Tom Dean after both swimmers won Olympic gold.

Adam Peaty has been made an OBE for services to Swimming in the New Year honours list. Credit: PA

Seven-time Paralympic champion Hannah Cockroft, who has been made an OBE after winning two golds in wheelchair racing, urged more disabled children to take up sports in school.

Despite England coming in touching distance of gold in the Euro 2020 competition, none of the team's finalists have been included, with the exception of assistant manager, Steve Holland.


In the world of entertainment, Daniel Craig has been given a special diplomatic honour after his final outing as James Bond in No Time To Die. The departing 007 is made a companion of the Order of St Michael and St George – which is styled CMG and was also conferred on the fictional spy in the film series and Ian Fleming’s books.

Actresses Joanna Lumley and Vanessa Redgrave are to be made dames, while James Bond franchise producer Barbara Broccoli will be made a CBE. Lumley, who is being honoured for services to drama, entertainment and art, said: “I am astonished and thrilled and touched beyond words to receive this colossal honour. “It comes as a complete and unexpected surprise, and is the kindest and most beautiful present imaginable.”

Joanna Lumley told ITV News she feels "overwhelmed" by the honour

Diversity member Ashley Banjo and former Spice Girl Mel B are both to be made an MBE, while the comedian Adam Hills is also to be made an MBE.

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Commenting on the honours, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “These recipients have inspired and entertained us and given so much to their communities in the UK or in many cases around the world. “The honours are an opportunity for us to thank them, as a country, for their dedication and outstanding contribution.”