Winchester New Year honours winners announced

Hampshire Chronicle: Prof Sonksen and his wife, Sue Prof Sonksen and his wife, Sue

ONE of the world’s leading experts on tackling drug abuse in sport has been made an OBE, it was announced today.

Professor Peter Sonksen, who lives in Preshaw, near Bishop’s Waltham, was honoured for services to anti-doping.

Prof Sonksen, an emeritus professor of endocrinology at St Thomas’ Hospital and Kings’ College in London, and a visiting professor at Southampton University, led an international team of scientists to develop a more reliable test for Human Growth Hormone (HGH) abuse.

It was used for the first time at the London Olympics and caught two Russian Paralympian power lifters.

Prof Sonksen, 76, said he was “thrilled” to be recognised. He said: “I have no idea who put me up for it. It came as a complete surprise but a very nice surprise.”

He has studied HGH for more than 40 years and advised the International Olympics Committee (IOC) and the UK authorities.

His calls for urgent action date back to before the 2000 Sydney Olympics when he warned the standard test was imperfect and people who appeared clean were in fact doping.

Prof Sonksen led a team of scientists appointed by the IOC to get an improved HGH test ready for the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

But it was not adopted by the IOC who “sat on the results,” said Prof Sonksen. “We did a job for the IOC on time and on budget and they did not pursue it which was very frustrating. We enjoyed doing the science but it was for a purpose.”

With the help of major grants from other international bodies, the team has spent the last 10 years refining the test.

“You are depriving people of their livelihoods if you catch them, so you have to be absolutely sure,” he added.

Among other recipients in the Chronicle’s main circulation area, Trish Spiers, of St Cross, receives a British Empire Medal for services to the community.

A former nurse teacher at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital, she has been actively involved with the community for 30 years, latterly as chairman of the League of Friends at the RHCH and the Winchester Floral Design Society. In 2012 she helped raise more than £10,000 at a festival of flowers at the Hospital of St Cross.

Mrs Spiers said: “I’m still a bit bemused. It is nice to be recognised, but you get on and do things and don’t expect things like this.”

Also recognised was Alexandra Day, director of adult and higher education at Peter Symonds College in Winchester.

She has become an MBE. It comes after the adult education centre in Stoney Lane, Weeke, had its first ever graduation ceremony in 2012.

Some 14 mature students received degrees in counselling validated by Middlesex University.

Planning barrister Richard Harwood QC will receive an OBE for services to planning and environment law decision-making.

Mr Harwood, of St Cross in Winchester, said: “It was a very nice surprise. It’s nice to be recognised for something that’s been done specialising in environmental law.

“I’ve worked extensively on planning matters but I’ve not been involved with any of Winchester’s controversies!”

Dr Keith Ridge, chief pharmaceutical officer for the Department of Health, from Kings Worthy, has been given the honour of CBE for services to the pharmacy profession and patients.


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