Sir Tony: ‘My knighthood is for my family, not just me’
Last updated at 11:07, Monday, 25 June 2012
No-one could be prouder of Workington MP Tony Cunningham’s knighthood than his family.
The Labour MP was named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours last Saturday.
And when Sir Tony told his mum at midnight she spent the early hours ringing friends and family around the world to share the news.
He was invited to accept the knighthood seven weeks ago but couldn’t tell anyone.
Sir Tony, 59, a former teacher, was awarded the honour for service to politics and the public.
He said: “It’s not just about me. I feel that this is recognition for my family, including my mum, who brought up six children on a council estate in Salterbeck.
“It’s also for the staff I work with, especially Jeannette who has been with me since becoming an MEP and it’s an honour for the people of West Cumbria.”
Sir Tony is the son of a dock worker, and his late father Danny would have been proud to see his success and recognition.
He gives much of the credit for the success of his 25-year political career to his wife Anne.
He added: “I couldn’t have done it without her. I signed up to be a politician and she didn’t, but she is as much in the public eye as I am.
“It’s tough on her and the children. I’m barely here during the week while Parliament sits, all day Friday is taken up with surgeries in West Cumbria, and the weekend is often packed with engagements and events that I am asked to attend.
“This knighthood is for her as it is for me. The cliche is behind every good man is a better woman – and we’re living proof of that.”
When Lady Anne, as she is now called, found out about the honour she didn't believe it at first, but said she was “so happy and proud of this very great honour and proud of Tony, as this brings recognition for the all the work he has done over the years”.
She added, with tongue firmly in cheek: “It’s going to be strange, with people calling him Sir Tony – I’m certainly not though! He may have to call me Lady Anne, however, around the house.”
They celebrated on Saturday night in a low-key way – a couple of pints in Workington and a curry.
Sir Tony has played a key role in the Labour Party political hierarchy, working as a government whip under both Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
One of his grandfathers was a miner and the other a steelworker.
The first member of his family to go to university, he gained a degree from Liverpool University in politics and history.
After graduating, he spent time volunteering in East Africa and returned home with a passion for politics, inspired by the poverty that he had seen there. He became a district councillor in 1987, and became leader of Allerdale council in 1992.
From 1994 to 1999 Sir Tony was MEP for Cumbria and North Lancashire, and in 1995 he wrote an influential report on land mines which called for a treaty to instigate an outright ban, now adopted by 150 countries. More recently, he worked to aid recovery from the 2009 floods.
He said he was proud of his efforts to generate jobs in his constituency, his influence in helping to secure the building of the £21m Energus Centre at Lillyhall and the HMRC call centre.
The couple have two children – Angela and Daniel – and Anne has two children from a previous marriage.
Awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours was Heike Horsburgh, 47, of Applethwaite, near Keswick.
The former chief executive of Young Cumbria was awarded for services to young people.
Heike, who was nominated for Cumbria Woman of the Year 2011, joined the Keswick-based charity in 2002 and oversaw its growth from nine staff members to 45.
She is now taking a degree but hopes to do voluntary work with children’s charities and projects in West Cumbria.
She said last year: “I want to go back to making a difference at a grass-roots level.”
Will Rawling, chairman of the Cumbria Farmer Network was awarded an MBE for services to agriculture and hill farming and the local community.
Rob Johnston, chief executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, was honoured with an MBE for services to business.
Stuart Hyde, Cumbria Constabulary chief constable, was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal.
First published at 19:20, Thursday, 21 June 2012
Published by http://www.timesandstar.co.uk
Have your say
Well done on your knighthood. We should be pleased that local people are doing well. They don't give knighthoods to just anyone and we should be proud and not jealous or negative!
There are at least three "in favour" comments on Tony Cunningham's knighthood.
It seems that if you are a "Workington lad", not part of "that London lot" and finally "an ordinary person" you would also qualify for this accolade.
Is this all it takes! I was under the impression it was a reward for outstanding work and results. I must have been mistaken.
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