New Year Honours in Towcester, Brackley and Bicester

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A headteacher, a former director general and a man who says he ‘lives and breathes water’ have been honoured in the New Year’s Honours list.

Michael Griffiths, the headteacher of Northampton School For Boys (NSB), from Towcester, has been recognised for services to education with a knighthood.

Sir Michael’s citation praises his leadership at NSB and in his role as president of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), a position he held in 2012-13.

Describing his reaction to the knighthood, Sir Michael said: “It is a combination of delight and being fairly dumbstruck, which is unusual for a head.

“It came as quite a considerable surprise, as I have no idea who put me forward for it. It is a huge honour, both for me and the school.

“It is not something that was on the agenda when I started out as a science teacher in Wolverhampton in 1974.”

Stephen Rimmer, from Brackley, has been awarded the Order Of The Bath CB for services to Criminal Justice and Policing Reform.

Mr Rimmer was director general of the Home Office’s Crime and Policing Group, from 2009 until late this year, when he took up a two-year secondment leading the fight against child sexual exploitation in the West Midlands.

In August this year, he became interim chairman of the Serious Organised Crime Agency, on the eve of the new National Crime Agency.

Mr Rimmer first joined the Home Office in 1984, and in his career he has been deputy governor of Strangeways prison, governor of Gartree and Wandsworth prisons and director of policing policy in the Home Office.

In 2005, he took a secondment as director of strategy, modernisation and performance at the Metropolitan Police Service, returning to the Home Office in 2007 to become director of the Prevent strategy and of the research, information and communications unit within the office for security and counter-terrorism.

In his new role, based at Birmingham City Council, Mr Rimmer will become the region’s strategic leader on action against the sexual exploitation of children and other vulnerable people.

Brian Wiggins, 55, of Longfields, Bicester, has been awarded the British Empire Medal for his services to amateur swimming.

Mr Wiggins swims competitively with the Bicester Blue Fins as well as teaching swimming and has been trained in lifeguarding.

He told the Advertiser and Review: “I live and breathe water. Everyone says I have gills and that chlorine runs through my veins.

“My first reaction was ‘Is this for real?’ I was taken aback and it took a few weeks before I accepted it was real.

“I bought The Telegraph just to make sure my name was there. Disbelief is a good description of how I felt.”

Mr Wiggins, who is a mechanical designer, found out about his accolade at the beginning of November when he received a letter from the Home Office, which also told him not to tell anyone.

“I am the world’s worst chatterbox at times,” he said. “My immediate family knew. Keeping everything quiet wasn’t the easiest of things because you want to shout about it.”