LEADING figures with links to the University of Essex have been honoured for their work as the New Year’s Honours list was announced.

The list of names includes some well-known individuals such as Max Whitlock, who won his third Olympic gold medal at Tokyo last summer, and Laura Kenny, the Olympic cyclist who went one better with a gold and a silver medal at the Games.

But there were individuals on the awards list who, despite perhaps not being household names, deserve to be recognised for some incredible feats.

One of them was Frank Bright, who was honoured for his role in educating young people about the horrors of genocide.

Mr Bright, who survived the Auschwitz concentration camp where he was sent aged 16 with his parents, became an MBE for services to Holocaust education.

The 93-year-old is a patron of the University of Essex’s Dora Love Prize, which is given to the best Holocaust awareness project by an individual pupil or group of pupils.

Professor Rainer Schulze, Emeritus Professor of History at the university, said the bond which Mr Bright forms with students is one of the characteristics which makes him stand out.

Prof Schulze said: “His rapport with the students amazes me every time.

“Students of all ages, but none more than the younger ones, absolutely adore Frank.

“They might not always understand every detail of what he is telling them, but they sense that they are together with a man who has lived through unimaginable horror, who lost his parents in the concentration camp, who lost his youth and almost everything that had constituted his identity, who had to start completely afresh when he came to this country – and yet there was one thing he never lost: His humanity and his empathy.”

A former graduate of the university, Shalini Khemka, received a CBE for services to entrepreneurship after setting up a mentoring scheme that has 23,000 budding future business leaders among its ranks.

Khemka graduated with a degree in Economics from the University of Essex in 1995.

She said: “If you’d asked me when I was young would I have had a CBE in the UK, it never occurred to me that I could even hope to achieve something like this, so I want to encourage young people that there is a huge amount of opportunity and if you really work hard.

“This country can allow you to thrive.”

Essex Olympians Max Whitlock and Laura Kenny, both of whom hold honorary degrees from the University of Essex, were honoured for their services to their respective sports.

Mr Whitlock said he was “truly honoured” to receive the award.

Laura Kenny, meanwhile, received a Damehood for services to cycling after becoming the must successful female cyclist and most successful female athlete in British Olympic history.

She now has a collection of six Olympic medals – five gold, one silver – from three games.

Biological sciences graduate Lucy Fletcher was made an MBE for services to clinical trials for her work over the pandemic, having received her degree from the university in 2005.

She worked with the national recovery trial which aims to identify treatments for people hospitalised with Covid-19, and said she was “delighted to have had the opportunity to contribute to what has been such an important and impactful collaboration”.

Prof Emma Redding, who studied for her Masters degree in Sports Science at Essex University, became an MBE for her services to dance.

Now an academic at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, Prof Redding is a founding member partner of the National Institute for Dance Medicine and Science, and past President of the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science.

Psychology graduate Martin Palmer received a British Empire Medal for voluntary and charitable services to injured children and their families.

Mr Palmer supports children with burns injuries by running the Children’s Burns Club at Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford.

He said: “It’s really humbling to receive this award and get such recognition, but really this is something for the whole club and team of dedicated volunteers to be proud of.”