Leicester alumni recognised in New Year Honours 2022

Paralympic Gold medallist Nick Cummins with Professor Nishan Canagarajah, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester.

Outstanding achievements by University of Leicester alumni have been recognised in the New Year’s Honours List for 2022.

Awards include recognition for a bestselling author and a Paralympic Gold-winning athlete.

Dr Mary Cusack has been appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to Healthcare and Child Welfare in India alongside Dr Catherine Morris.

The pair, both former National Health Service paediatricians, are recognised for their outstanding contribution to vulnerable children and their families in India through their Love the One charity.

After five years working with Non-Governmental Organisations and familiarising themselves with Indian culture and tropical medicine on the front line, Dr Cusack and Dr Morris established their organisation in Berhampur, Odisha to bring health security, education and advocacy to some of the most deprived and vulnerable children in the country.

Dr Mary Cusack (centre) and Dr Cat Morris (right) with a child helped by their Love the One charity.

Through their inspirational vision and dedication they have created an integrated community ecosystem comprising of a children’s centre, clinic, six early paediatric interventional care centres and a school. Through their work, they have saved and transformed lives and delivered hope through selfless voluntary service and brought great credit to the UK.

On learning of their awards, Mary Cusack and Catherine Morris said: “We are completely shocked and totally humbled to be awarded an OBE. It is such an honour and we accept this gratefully on behalf of our team that we work with here in Odisha, India, without whom we could not realise the dream of providing health, education and childcare to some of India’s poorest children.”

Elsewhere, current PhD researcher Nick Cummins has been made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to Wheelchair Rugby.

He is among 78 Olympians and Paralympians decorated following success at Tokyo 2020. Cummins, who combines his studies with playing a key role in the Leicester Tigers Wheelchair Rugby team, was part of Team GB’s Gold medal-winning squad at the delayed Games.

Sir Hugh Robertson, Chair of the Sport Honours Committee and Chair of the British Olympic Association, said: “The Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games were the most testing ever for everyone involved but most particularly the athletes. They lit up the British summer with a series of outstanding performances and fully deserve the recognition that they have received in this year’s list. They, genuinely, did the country proud.”

Dr Adele Parks also receives an MBE for services to Literature. She has written 21 novels in her 21-year career as an author and is one of the bestselling authors of women’s fiction in the UK.

An English graduate from the University of Leicester, Dr Parks released her debut novel, Playing Away, in 2000 and has sold over 4 million UK edition copies of her books. Her works have also been translated into 30 languages.

Professor Nishan Canagarajah, President and Vice-Chancellor at the University of Leicester said: “All of us at the University wish to congratulate those members of the Leicester community recognised in the New Year’s Honours List.

“Mary, Nick and Adele represent the very best of our institution in a broad range of fields, and their awards are most highly deserved.

“I am delighted that we could play a role in their journey to becoming Citizens of Change.”

Meanwhile, Professor Kamlesh Khunti, Professor of Primary Care Diabetes and Vascular Medicine at the University of Leicester, has been made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his services to Health.

Dr Adele Parks