Dec 28 2012 By Ian Proctor
ATHLETES and civil servants are among those from Harrow to receive gongs in The Queen's New Year's Honours List.
Gold medal winning Paralympic rower Naomi Riches is to be made an MBE after the 29-year-old, who grew up in Harrow Weald and is visually impaired, romped home with crewmates David Smith, James Roe, Pam Relph and cox Lily van den Broecke in the LTA (legs, trunk and arms) mixed coxed fours discipline at Eton Dorney in August.
Ms Riches said: "I was surprised at the nomination. I didn't have any idea that some like that would happen.
"It's such a treat, something to be proud of and a great way to end such a fantastic year."
Before scooping the gold medal, Ms Riches, who attended Cannon Lane First and Middle Schools in Pinner and Bentley Wood High School in Stanmore before studying for her A-levels at the residential New College Worcester for blind and visually impaired students, where she was introduced to rowing, had already brought home bronze from the Beijing Games four years earlier and is a five times world champion.
She now lives in Marlow, in Buckinghamshire - training with the GB rowing squad nearby and competing for Marlow Rowing Club - and it was during her second year of her metalwork and jewellery design degree at Buckinghamshire New University, formerly Buckinghamshire Chilterns University, in 2004 that she was headhunted to join the Paralympic rowing team with such success.
Ms Riches said: "It's been a big year, of crazy highs and some scary moments and lots of nerves, and the message I'd like to say to everyone is Thank You because this year would not have been as incredible had it not been for the best supporters ever: Britain."
Alongside Ms Riches on the New Year's Honours List is Piria Darshni Wignarajah, of Parkside Way, North Harrow, who is a senior manager at UK Trade and Investment, the Governmental department helping British businesses win custom abroad.
She will be made an MBE for services to the British Business Embassy, the temporary showcase created at Lancaster House during the Olympics designed to attract foreign investment into the UK.
Former England and Surrey batsman Mark Ramprakash - who most recently turned out for Stanmore Cricket Club - has accepted being made an MBE for services to sport after ending his playing career in July.
He attended Gayton High School, now Harrow High School, in Gayton Road, Harrow, and Harrow Weald Sixth Form College, which has since become Harrow College's Harrow Weald Campus.
Ramprakash played for Bessborough CC and Stanmore CC before embarking on his county cricket career at Middlesex CC and Surrey CC, winning international caps as well.
The 42-year-old father-of-two, who triumphed in the second series of BBC1's 'Strictly Come Dancing' in 2006, returned to Middlesex CC a few weeks ago to become batting coach.
The fourth local recipient of a gong is Mahendra Gajjar, of Camrose Avenue, Edgware.
He is an officer for small and medium enterprises at Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs and is to be made an MBE for services to tax and duty fraud prevention and to the community in Edgware.
n Do you know anyone from Harrow receiving a New Year's honour? Contact reporter Ian Proctor on 07795 811230.