New Year Honours for the Christ Church community

2024 began with great excitement at Christ Church when we learned that several of our alumni were listed in the latest New Year Honours List. Read on to learn about five of these remarkable individuals and their celebrated achievements and service. 

Dr Phillip George: CBE for services to Heritage, to Sport and to Charity

Dr Phillip George
Dr Phillip George

Phillip came to Christ Church in 1968 to read English. In 2023 he stepped down from his role as Chair of the Arts Council of Wales, a position he had held since 2016. Dafydd Rhys, Chief Executive Arts Council of Wales, said: 'Phil has been a great chair of Council and a positive encourager for our staff, who will miss him greatly. He has also been tireless in his work for the arts in Wales and never missed an opportunity to talk about the work being done across the sector by the Council, nor to extol the virtues of arts organisations and individual arts practitioners in all parts of Wales. We are deeply grateful for all he has done for the arts in Wales and wish him well as he now steps down from this role.'

Responding to news of the honour, Phillip said: 'I was of course delighted to receive this honour, which is also a recognition of the vibrancy of the Arts in Wales and their central place in Welsh society. Over the years of my involvement with broadcasting and the arts I have often drawn on insights and inspiration from my time at Christ Church. There were many extraordinary moments, including a long conversation with W. H. Auden; but above all, let me pay tribute to the remarkable insights and critical edge of my tutors, Christopher Butler and J. I. M. Stewart. They were challenging in ways both benign and acute – truly a lifetime gift.'

Prior to his Arts Council position, Phillip worked as Head of Arts, Music and Features at BBC Wales and was also adviser to the Creative Economy project at Cardiff University. He held a role at National Theatre Wales and founded the TV Production company Green Bay. At Green Bay, he was Executive Producer of six-part drama The Story of Wales

Dr Phillip George
Dr Phillip George

Jessica Pulay: CBE for Services to Public Finances

Jessica Pulay speaking
Jessica Pulay

Jessica came up in 1984 to read languages. She works at the UK Debt Management Office (DMO) as Co-head of Policy and Markets. Joining in 2015, she is responsible for the UK Government’s debt issuance and cash management, as well as the policy, research, and business operations areas. She is also an executive member of the DMO's Advisory Board. 

Jessica has served on a number of charity/non-profit boards and is a board member of the International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm), financing Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. She also chairs the board of the Wallace Collection, a London museum. Following the 2004 Asian tsunami, Jessica helped to establish the Rawatha Orphanage in Sri Lanka. 

Edward Album: OBE for services to Railway Heritage and to the communities in the North of England

Edward came up in 1956 to read Law – Jurisprudence. He was until recently an active solicitor, and he still holds several roles in arbitration: he is a panel member of the London Court of International Arbitration; a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, with Panel Status; a Member of Panel and Chairman of the Arbitration Panel Committee for the London Metal Exchange; a member of the London Branch of the International Chamber of Commerce; a supporting member of the London Maritime Arbitration Association; a member of the Railway Industry Disputes Panel; and an arbitrator for the Dubai International Arbitration Centre. 

Edward was a founder of the Settle and Carlisle Railway Trust, a charitable trust formed to preserve, restore, and maintain historic buildings and structures along the railway line from Cumbria to Yorkshire and promote public knowledge and appreciation of the line. He established the trust as a registered charity in 1990 on behalf of the Friends of the Line, as proposed to ministers when the line was threatened with closure. He was an original trustee for the trust before becoming Chairman between 1999 and 2009. During this time, he oversaw the acquisition and restoration of three trust properties. 

Laurence Cummings: OBE for Services to Music

Laurence Cummings
Laurence Cummings

Laurence came to the House in 1986 to read Music and served as an Organ Scholar during his time here, graduating with first-class honours. At present he is Conductor, Harpsichordist, and Music Director of the Academy of Ancient Music (AAM) and the London Handel Festival, as well as William Crotch Professor of Historical Performance at the Royal Academy of Music. At the Royal Academy of Music, Laurence conducts the Baroque Orchestra and also has regular engagements with the English Concert and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. 

Laurence was thrilled to receive an OBE: 'I am delighted to be honoured as an OBE. Music is a collaborative venture and I am so grateful to my colleagues who have joined me on my many musical adventures. In these difficult days for the arts in the UK, I am pleased with this recognition of their importance.'

Laurence's career has seen him conduct performances at such production houses as the Opernhaus Zürich (Belshazzar, King Arthur), the Theater an der Wien (Saul), the Gothenburg Opera (Orfeo ed Euridice, Giulio Cesare, Alcina and Idomeneo), the Théâtre du Châtelet (Saul), and the Opera de Lyon (Messiah). In the UK, he was a regular at the English National Opera. Learn more about Laurence from his Royal Academy page

Laurence Cummings
Laurence Cummings

Kenneth Thompson: COB for Public Service

Kenneth came to Christ Church in 1984 to read Music, securing first-class honours. He has received a Companion of the Order of Bath in recognition of his public service as Scottish Government Director General. Kenneth began his career in the Scottish Office as a Civil Servant in 1988 and slowly worked his way up to become the International and Constitution Director of the Scottish Government and Director General for Strategy and External Affairs in 2011. 

Kenneth works to define and deliver the Scottish Government’s programme and legislation, and to co-ordinate cross-government work on high-priority issues including the constitution, the Scottish COVID-19 response, parliamentary relations, and intergovernmental relations. He also worked on 'Operation Unicorn', managing the ceremonies in Scotland following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.