SELFLESS people who consistently put others before themselves have been rewarded for their kindness with top awards from the Queen.
The monarch has praised people from across the area as part of the New Year’s Honours list.
Peter McQuade, of Hayling Island, has been made an MBE for his services to charity and sports riding.
It comes after the 60-year-old set up the Paris to Hayling Charity Cycle Ride, which over its 30-year history has raised more than £1.5m between 500 charities during annual cycling tours.
Peter, who lives in Seafront, said: ‘The idea of it being more than a one-off – or even going on 30 years – never crossed my mind.
‘But to get an honour from the Queen for it – I can honestly say that was never on the horizon. I was very surprised.’
He added during his time leading the charity endeavour he had not only spread the joy of cycling to hundreds in the county but also lent a hand in creating new families too.
‘Fifteen people have met their life partners on one of the rides and we have even had a number of bike ride babies since,’ he explained.
Disabled Paul Smith, of Cosham, is awarded an OBE in recognition of his charity work, which has seen him raise £2.3m for good causes.
The Royal Navy veteran was severely injured in a car crash in 1991, which left him in a coma-like condition for 12 years.
He suffered serious brain injuries and damage to his spine, chest and hip and will never walk again.
However, this hasn’t stopped the brave veteran from tackling gruelling endurance challenges.
He has pushed himself 325 miles from Plymouth to London via Portsmouth as well as propelled himself the 2.7 miles up the incredibly steep Rock of Gibraltar.
Reacting to the awards, a modest Paul, 57, said: ‘I was shocked because I don’t believe I deserved it.
‘It’s a team effort event. Although I have done the challenges I have had a good team behind me and my wife and family.
‘But I was humbled because someone out there, whoever it is, felt that I deserved such an honour.’
Lieutenant Commander Geoffrey Palmer, of Portsmouth, has also been honoured by the royal, being made an MBE for his voluntary service to young people through the city’s Sea Cadet Corps branch.
Lt Cmdr Palmer – whose naval career spanned 47 years – had been the chairman of the Cadet corps for more than 20 years before leaving the role two years ago.
The 66-year-old grandfather-of-one said: ‘This award has topped off my year.
‘It came as a great surprise to say the least.
‘But it was quite humbling. I was merely the part of a much bigger team.’
He added keeping the award a secret from family members had been ‘incredibly tough’.
‘We tried to arrange for our daughter and son-in-law to come over for New Year’s Day but she kept saying she might not be able to make it,’ he said.
‘It was hard to keep it a secret and not say anything.’
Copnor’s the Rev Canon David Power has been presented with the British Empire Medal for his services to the community of Portsmouth.
For more than a decade, Mr Power has been leading a major conversion project to give St Cuthbert’s church a £4.5m facelift.
His efforts have seen a ‘cavernous’ church that was ‘under-used by the community’ being transformed into a hub of activity.
The church now houses a doctors’ surgery, play groups, community rooms and other medical facilities as well as a full functioning church.
He also helped in the construction of nine new flats on the old church hall site which have been specially designed for the elderly.
Mr Power said: ‘I’m immensely proud to have been presented with the BEM.
‘I know it’s a cliché but this really has been down to the whole community.’
Speaking of the church’s facelift, he added: ‘It’s been very, very difficult and very costly not just financially but personally.
‘A lot of people said it was an impossible vision to achieve but my faith and the faith of everyone who has been a part of it, saw us through.’
The awards were revealed tonight with hundreds of people across the nation being praised for their commitment to good causes, the community, law and order, the arts and local government among others.
Portsmouth council leader, Councillor Donna Jones has told of her pride in all those who received accolades from the Queen.
She said: ‘I’m thrilled to hear local community activists and church leaders have been recognised.
‘These awards are the highest you can receive from the Queen and it’s wonderful to see so many people from Portsmouth being praised.’