Hampshire & Isle of Wight

New Year Honours 2020: Francis Benali appointed MBE

Francis Benali applauded by crowd after run Image copyright PA
Image caption Benali received a standing ovation at Southampton FC's St Mary's Stadium when he completed a challenge in 2016

Former footballer Francis Benali has been appointed MBE in the New Year Honours List.

Mr Benali, 50, completed a series of gruelling challenges to raise £1m for Cancer Research UK.

In May he completed five Ironman triathlons inside a week - swimming 12 miles, running five marathons and cycling 560 miles.

The former Southampton captain said the reward - for services to cancer patients - was a "real shock".

He decided to raise money for charity after family and friends were affected by the disease.

Mr Benali said: "It came as a real shock when the letter [informing him of the award] arrived.

"But I'm extremely honoured and proud to receive the honour. It's something that was completely unexpected and I was quite taken aback by it."

Image copyright IronFran
Image caption Francis Benali played more than 300 games for Southampton

Mr Benali, who was taken to hospital at one point during one of the triathlons in May, was thanked by Cancer Research UK for his "phenomenal achievement" and "incredible determination".

He said he was now focusing on a fundraising gala dinner in March to raise funds and did not have any imminent "crazy challenges".

In 2016, the former defender ran and cycled 1,000 miles (1,600 km) in two weeks, visiting every Premier League and Championship stadium.

He was granted the Freedom of Southampton at a ceremony later that year.

Other MBE appointments in Hampshire include Bob and Linda Caddy, who have fostered 160 young people in 19 years.

The appointments committee said the Andover couple had been "especially committed and effective" in supporting people who were in their care.

Sokphal Din, from Basingstoke, survived the genocide in Cambodia and has worked with the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust (HMDT) since 2011.

He is awarded a British Empire Medal, having spoken extensively about his experiences.

Natalie Black, a former deputy head of the 10 Downing Street Policy Unit, is appointed CBE for public service.

She has been Her Majesty's Trade Commissioner (HMTC) for Asia Pacific since September 2018.

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