Royal honours for three inspirational women in Luton, Bedford and Central Bedfordshire

A Luton headteacher is among three women recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

By Lynn Hughes
Monday, 6th June 2022, 9:48 am
Donna Neely-Hayes (third left) at a recent function
Donna Neely-Hayes (third left) at a recent function

Donna Neely-Hayes from Renhold, has spent her entire teaching career at Denbigh High School. She has been awarded an MBE for services to education.

The 37 year old started as a newly qualified teacher in 2007 and is now its headteacher.

The school is part of Chiltern Learning Trust and is one of the top-performing schools in the Trust.

Under her stewardship, the school continued its excellent performance.

Between 2017 and 2019, the Key Stage 4, Progress 8 scores were ‘well above average’ making Denbigh High one of only 14% of schools in England to achieve this score.

Denbigh High was one of only four schools nationally to be awarded two Teaching School Hubs in 2021.

Donna has worked tirelessly to promote the school’s, and Trust’s, vision of developing an outstanding teaching school alliance network.

>A teacher at a Luton based South Asian Dance and Music company has been awarded an MBE for services to dance.

Sanjeevini Dutta is the director of Kadam Dance, a nationally renowned dance and summer school.

The 68-year-old, who lives in Finchley, trained in Odissi, a classical Indian dance, and for two decades performed, and took dance into education and in the community.

Alongside Bisakha Sarker, as one-half of Sanchari, she toured ‘Rhythms of Life’ and ‘Tending the Fire’ nationally.

She jointly led Kadam Dance and the Kadam Dance Summer School and as Director of Kadam, she produces and tours shows such as ‘The Rose and the Bulbul’ in 2017, a promenade piece for gardens.

She also produces for the Odissi Ensemble, the UK’s only professional Odissi company, with pieces such as ‘Gods and Mortals’ (2017).

Her training and passion for Odissi, led to the first sustained Odissi dance class in the East of England. Starting in a primary school in Bedford, with predominantly non-Asian children, the small group, known as the Mayuri dancers, stayed together for over ten years.

She took over the publication of Pulse in 2008, taking the magazine in the direction of greater popular appeal, bringing full colour, gorgeous photographs, inclusion of music coverage and more focus on dancers and productions. Between 2008-2017, she produced and edited 39 issues.

>Emma Cox, aged 41, who works at Central Bedfordshire Council, has been awarded an MBE for services to child and family social work and voluntary work oversea

She is a Senior Practitioner at the Council and has over seven years’ experience in Social Work.

In 2000, while on a gap year in Romania, Emma witnessed extreme prejudice against Roma families and disabled children.

This motivated her to stay on in Romania for seven years and set up the charity Romania Relief working with children and families, raising funds to build orphanages and providing private foster care.

Emma later co-founded the charity Humanitas to help abandoned and orphaned children across the world. As of 2020, the charity has assisted 43,000 individuals across Europe and Africa.

She has been fundraising for the charity’s 20th year anniversary.

In 2019, she was recognised with the Social Worker of the Year Award for Championing Social Work Values and at the National Children & Young People Awards 2020, she won the Gold Award for Children & Families Social Worker.