Two Devon rescue heroes have been recognised in the King's New Year's Honours awards with British Empire Medals.

Rob Illman is one of the longest-serving members of Dartmoor Search and Rescue, and has been formally named a "Medallist of the Order of the British Empire" for services to mountain rescue.

Meanwhile Ian Barnaby, a navigator and crew member of the Torbay Lifeboat, receives the same award for his voluntary services to maritime safety.

The King’s New Year Honours List includes recipients who have made exceptional contributions to their local communities and the country as a whole. This year 90 people in the wider South West received honours, which is just over 7% of the total number of recipients. 

It is the second New Year Honours from King Charles, whose accession was in September 2022, and whose coronation was in May 2023.

Rob Illman joined Dartmoor Search and Rescue in 1982. During his time on the team, he held the Team Leader (Search Manager) role for 17 years and was instrumental in planning searches for missing and lost persons and directing rescues in the local area; liaising with the Police and other emergency services, and running response cells for events such as Ten Tors. Ian Barnaby, navigator and crew member at the RNLI’s Torbay Lifeboat Station, and a former RAF aircraft engineer, said the award had come as a big surprise.

“I was absolutely flabbergasted - at first I thought it was a windup! I’m thrilled to bits. I’m proud for me and my family, and I’m really proud for everybody at Torbay Lifeboat Station.

“I first heard from the Honours Committe at the end of November, so I had to keep it a secret until now, which was quite difficult - I told my wife but nobody else knew.”

Mr Barnaby, 63, has been a volunteer at the RNLI for 20 years, serving first in London on the River Thames before joining the Torbay Lifeboat Station in 2014.

“The cameraderie has been fantastic. We’ve got such a close-knit team here, right across the lifeboat station, from the fudnraisers to the launch authorities to the crew...everybody – I hope this award is for them as well.

Speaking about his work at the RNLI, he said: “You won’t find a lifeboatman anywhere in Britain or Ireland who would call themselves a hero. We don’t think we’re heroes, we’re just doing a job.

“You think about the ones you couldn’t help, but you try to focus on the success stories of those you have rescued - that’s what makes it all worthwhile for us.”

Mr Barnaby has also done a lot of fundraising over the years and, along with seven coleagues, climbed the Kilimanjaro for charity recently, raising a staggering £105,000.

He said he was planning on remaining at the RNLI until his 65th birthday in 2025, but insisted he would still be involved with the charity in another capacity after that.

Meanwhile Mark Yallop, who lives in Totnes, has been made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to charity and to the UK financial industry. He was chairman of the Financial Markets Standards Board for seven years, stepping down from the post earlier this year. He is a former UK chief executive of the Swiss private bank, UBS.

Across Devon, charity workers, civil servants, and community heroes were also honoured.

Tim Martin, the founder of the Wetherspoons pub chain and who lives near Exeter, was knighted for his services to hospitality and culture. Mr Martin, who is 68, was a leading pro-Brexit voice before the 2016 referendum on whether Britain left the EU.

Commanders of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)

Catherine Jane Uttley Dovey, from Tiverton, Co-Founder, Beacon Collaborative and Director, Rosa Fund. For services to Philanthropy, to Women and Girls, to the Arts and to the Economy.

Professor Penelope Clare Endersby, from Newton Abbot, Chief Executive Officer, Met Office. For services to Meteorology, to Defence Science and to Technology.

Officers of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)

Sarah Jane Cressall, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, The Creation Station. For services to Creativity in Education, Entertainment and Business (Exmouth).

Amy Louise Doncaster, Deputy Director, Strategy and Future Design, Department for Work and Pensions. For Public Service (Buckfastleigh).

Colonel (Rtd) Brian Mark Gorski MBE For services to Museums and to the community. (South Molton)

Dr Leonard Malcolm Lofts, Patron and Lately Chief Executive, Northam Care Trust, Bideford. For services to People with Disabilities in Devon.

Members of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) Professor Peter Alister STOTT Deputy Head of Climate Science and Science Fellow, Met Office. For services to Climate Science (Exeter, Devon)

Medallists of the Order of the British Empire Jacqueline Ann Hendra, Social Care Assessor, Devon County Council. For services to People with Disabilities (Plympton)

Hayley Marie Watson, for services to the community in Exmouth, particularly during Covid-19 (Exmouth).