Two OMs Receive Royal Recognition in the King's New Year Honours List

Two OMs Receive Royal Recognition in the King's New Year Honours List

As we head into 2024, we are delighted to celebrate the recognition of two outstanding OMs in the King's New Year Honours List. 

Tony Blackburn OBE and Christopher Jolly OBE have been awarded Officers of the British Empire for their remarkable contributions to their respective industries. 


Tony Blackburn  

Tony rose to fame as a DJ on the pirate broadcaster Radio Caroline South in 1964, and later joined Radio London, where he introduced the first soul program in the UK. He made history as the first voice on BBC Radio 1 during its inaugural broadcast on September 30, 1967, hosting the breakfast show. In that same year, he commenced his long-standing role as a regular presenter on the popular TV program Top of the Pops.  

As a DJ, Tony continued his influential career in broadcasting by spending time at BBC London, where he is credited with commercialising soul music. In 1988, he left to join Capital Radio, where he launched its Gold Station and presented soul shows until December 2002. During that year, he also appeared on the first series of ‘I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!’ and was crowned the king of the jungle by hosts Ant and Dec. 

At 80-years-old, Tony decided it was time to move on from the local radio stint but clarified he would still continue with his BBC Radio 2 show and his other shows at the corporation, such as Tony Blackburn's Golden Hour. 

Tony was awarded an OBE for his significant contributions to broadcasting and charity work. In response to the honour, he expressed his surprise and appreciation, stating: "It was truly unexpected and very humbling." 


Christopher Jolly 

Christopher Jolly is the Managing Director and Founder of Jolly Learning Ltd, a company he founded in 1987. The company's journey began with the publication of boxed reading games, and in 1992, Christopher published the first part of Jolly Phonics. 

Jolly Phonics is an integrated system used worldwide to teach children to read in English. The program breaks words into 42 letter groups, each with its own sound. It focuses on five skills: learning the sounds of each phoneme, mastering letter formation, blending sounds for reading, segmenting words for spelling, and addressing tricky words that can't be easily decoded. Chris, a member of the Simplified Spelling Society, emphasizes a multi-sensory child-centred approach in Jolly Phonics, incorporating actions for each sound and even a Jolly Phonics song. 

Christopher met Sue Lloyd, the founding author of Jolly Phonics, at a small conference in 1989. Recognising the potential of Sue's effective teaching methods, Chris had her ideas trialled over the next two years. This collaboration led to the development of ‘The Phonics Handbook’. Fortunately, the book gained significant attention when it was featured in a discussion about reading on a UK breakfast TV programme at the time of its launch, giving Jolly Phonics a tremendous start. 

With the goal of reaching a global audience, shortly after the launch of ‘The Phonics Handbook’, Christopher took the initiative to establish a focus group in the US. This effort not only made Jolly Phonics compatible with American English but also resulted in the creation of American editions. 

Yet, the achievement of which Chris is most proud extends beyond the UK to the developing world. Drawing from his experience in commerce, he recognises the significance of addressing actual needs rather than perceptions of need. In many of the world's poorest families, the primary aspiration is for their children to read and write in English. Leveraging the commercial success of Jolly Learning, Chris has been able to introduce Jolly Phonics for free to numerous countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Indian Subcontinent. Notably, in Nigeria, approximately 50,000 teachers have been trained in teaching English with Jolly Phonics, and national adoption ensures that all children benefit from the system. 

In recognition of his contributions, Chris received an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of Uyo in Nigeria in 2014 and an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of Bristol in 2017. Further, in 2019, he was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the IPG, a publishing trade association. 

This year, Chris has been awarded an OBE in the King’s New Year Honours List in recognition of his services to Education. 

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