A LONG-STANDING councillor, the chief executive of a 12-school trust and a childminding champion were among the local figures recognised on the Queen’s prestigious Birthday Honours list.

Coun Jeff Ennis, who was elected as a councillor in 1980, became Barnsley Council leader in 1995 before he served as the MP for Barnsley East and Mexborough from 1996 to 2010.

Since May 2012, the 65-year-old has represented the North East ward which covers villages including Brierley, where he lives, Great Houghton, Grimethorpe and Shafton.

He was the Mayor of Barnsley for a year up until May, and has been awarded an OBE for parliamentary and political services.

Coun Ennis, who grew up on Michael’s Estate, Grimethorpe, said: “It’s a big achievement for me personally, but it’s also one for my family as I’ve been in the public eye for around 40 years. It’s nice to be recognised.

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“In my time as an MP I had a couple of stand-out achievements including raising the age of legal smoking from 16 to 18 in 2007. Before being a councillor and an MP, I was a teacher and did three years in Wolverhampton and 18 years in Sheffield.

“Two of my heroes, George Thompson, who was the musical director of Grimethorpe Colliery Band and Terry Haynes, who ran the St John Ambulance group in the village also received honours, so it’s nice to follow in their footsteps.”

Also set to be given an OBE for his contribution to education is David Dickinson, the Monk Bretton-born former headteacher who founded the Waterton Academy Trust, which now controls 12 schools, in 2014.

The 52-year-old, who left St Michael’s RC School in Athersley at the age of 16 without qualifications, wanted his bittersweet experiences to shape his current schools.

David, of Royd Lane, Higham, said: “I first went to St Dominic’s Primary School in Athersley and loved it. There was a great headteacher, Mike Fealy, who later became the inspiration for my leadership style of putting children first, ensuring they enjoyed and achieved and treated people with respect. ( “I didn’t get on with high school that much. I found the curriculum uninspiring and the Catholic ethos difficult. There were some good teachers and I made loads of friends but despite encouragement to stay on from my parents, I left at Easter without sitting my exams.( “I spent the rest of the bleak 1980s and early 90s in the coal industry driving wagons and eventually ended up working in the fitting shop for a mining engineering company.

“I realised that the industry was dying and therefore went back to education, firstly to Barnsley College, before I studied politics and history at Sheffield University. I then did a post-grad QTS (teacher training) at Bradford University.”

Since then, David has worked in Doncaster, Kirklees, Sheffield and Wakefield, before forming the trust.( “The trust has grown to 12 schools,” he said. “It’s performing exceptionally well and has never had an Ofsted judgement less than good with outstanding elements.

“I am deeply honoured to have been awarded an OBE. While this may be viewed as a personal recognition, I feel it very much reflects the efforts of our brilliant team at Waterton Academy Trust and all of the talented and dedicated individuals that I have been so fortunate to have worked alongside throughout my career.

“The greatest honour has been to work beside these people as we have endeavoured to secure the best possible futures for the children in our care. I would also thank my family for the incredible amount of support and encouragement that I have received throughout my career.”

Childminder Tracy Abnett will receive a British Empire Medal for her tireless service to boosting early years education in the town.

The 52-year-old, of Melville Street, Wombwell, told the Chronicle she was thrilled at the achievement having clocked up more than 25 years’ experience.

But it’s not just childminding Tracy’s renowned for as she’s the town’s representative for the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY).

“I’ve done a lot in early years education and PACEY is really important for maintaining the quality of childminders in Barnsley,” she said.

“I was nominated by the council and I’m really proud and grateful for that. Childminding isn’t something that’s recognised a lot but it’s lovely.”