South-east London everyday heroes recognised on New Year Honours List

By Duchess Magazine

These include a former homeless man, a nurse and a doctor who stood out through their outstanding contributions to their local communities.

Dennis Rogers, 58, said he was “gobsmacked” to be picked after spending 10 years out on the street.

The Penge man, who suffered from being an alcoholic, was stabbed during the darkest period of his life.

He is now 16 years sober and has set up the Saturday Club to support people with addictions and those who are rough sleeping.

“I speak their language,” Dennis told News Shopper. “It is hard out there. Once you have been homeless it takes a long time to adjust and loneliness is the biggest threat for people along with family break-ups.”

Dennis ended up homeless after a relationship breakdown.

Speaking about getting an MBE, he said: “I am very shocked. It is the last think I would have dreamed of.

“I am still a bit numb now.”

Dennis was also recognised for being a case worker with the Homeless Health Peer Advocacy service at Groundswell.

Dr Nigel Philip Sykes, 64, from Beckenham, was awarded an MBE for his dedication to end-of-life care.

He is a medical director at Sydenham’s St Christopher’s Hospice and has had renowned journals and books published on motor neurone disease and ethical issues concerning end-of-life care.

“I suspect like most people I was very surprised,” Dr Sykes said of his award.

He added: “This has been my career and I am very passionate about it. How we look after people at the end of their lives not just has an impact on the individual themselves but also for their family.

“It shapes feeling and their reaction to a serious illness if it ever comes for them in future.”

Ruth Oshikanlu, 45, is the daughter of Nigerian parents who wanted her to be a doctor rather than a nurse.

“I wanted to prove my dad wrong,” Ruth laughed to News Shopper after being told of her MBE.

Ruth, who is also an author, was a standout for her services to community nursing, children and families.

She said: “It has been one of the hardest secrets to keep. Oh God, I am ecstatic and so excited.”

The Forest Hill woman has been a nurse and midwife for over 20 years and she said it was incredible to be awarded for something she loves doing.

She has also acted as a role model for BAME nurses and is known for her writing in health visiting journals.

“My friends will be shocked when they find out,” Ruth added. “When I am on a mission there is no stopping me getting there.

“This award has made me want to get back out there and help people.”

Other MBE winners from south-east London include Elizabeth Booth, former headteacher of Dalmain Primary School in Forest Hill, who was recognised for her services to education and the arts.

Governor of Chelsfield Primary School, Eileen Vassie, was nominated and picked for her work in education.

Belvedere’s James Brooks was awarded an OBE for services to male victims of domestic abuse.

Bromley’s Rosemarie Pysarczuk won a British Empire Medal for her contributions as a cabinet committee correspondence officer.

Senior project manager at the Home Office for security and counter terrorism, Naidne Hibbert, was also given a British Empire Medal for her services to the Lewisham community.

Ian Thomas, who left his role as chief executive at Lewisham Council earlier this year before joining Kingston Council, was named a CBE for his dedication to local government and children’s services.

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