UNION CHIEF TURNS DOWN SEAT IN LORDS

A TRIO of awards went to Doncaster people in the New Year Honours list - but one of the town's most famous sons turned down the chance of a peerage.

A TRIO of awards went to Doncaster people in the New Year Honours list - but one of the town's most famous sons turned down the chance of a peerage.

Union chief Rodney Bickerstaffe declined Prime Minister Tony Blair's offer of a seat in the Lords, reportedly saying that to accept would betray his socialist beliefs.

Mr Bickerstaffe, 55, who earlier this year was awarded the Freedom of the Borough in a ceremony at the Mansion House, had been offered a lordship to mark his retirement as general secretary of Unison later this month.

But there was joy for three other locals who each made sure of a great start to 2001 by collecting honours.

Tickhill man Andrew Cash was awarded the OBE for his services to health which included helping to co-ordinate the response to the flu crisis across Britain last winter.

Mr Cash, chief executive of Sheffield's Northern General Hospital NHS Trust,

admitted the honour had come as a surprise but refused to be singled out for praise and said the award was a team effort.

He said: "I am delighted to have been awarded this honour, both personally and for everyone who provides health care in Sheffield.

"Receiving the OBE reflects well on our team effort and I greatly appreciate it."

Last year, Mr Cash, who lives at The Paddock, was seconded by the Department

of Health to lead the national team that successfully planned and managed the NHS Winter Pressures Programme which focused on guiding hospitals through the flu crisis.

He has also recently been appointed as chief executive of the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust - the third-largest trust in the country.

Another person making sure of a happy new year was Bessacarr's June Clarke who collected the MBE for her work with the Inland Revenue.

Mrs Clarke said: "I was delighted, surprised but proud when I found out that I had got an honour.

"I got the letter a few months ago and I have not been able to say anything since then. Only my husband knows so it will be great to be able to share the news with my colleagues."

Mrs Clarke began her career in the Inland Revenue in Doncaster in 1958 but has spent the last 11 years working at the tax office in Sheffield where she is operations manager.

She has also been a member of Soroptomists International for 16 years and has held various positions in the club including president.

Mrs Clarke has also served as a magistrate for 12 years on both the Doncaster and Rotherham Benches.

Also collecting the MBE was Barnburgh man Alan Winlow who was honoured for his services to the environment.

He said: "It is absolutely unbelievable. I was really stunned and taken aback when I found out. We had just got back from holiday and it was a surprise to say the least."

His honour was awarded for his environmental work at Marshalls Clay Products in Barnsley where he was responsible for a series of green initiatives including tree planting, creating wildlife footpaths and recycling methane gas.

Mr Winlow, of Wadworth Court and who has recently retired, said: "It is a great honour to receive an MBE for the work we carried out at Marshalls.

"It proved we could operate a brick manufacturing plant in tune with the

environment and local community needs."

Captions - Union chief Rodney Bickerstaffe - declined the offer of a seat in the Lords.