New Year Honours: Ex-equal rights lawyer and basketball coach recognised

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Vera Baird
Image caption,
Ms Baird has fought for the rights of women in abusive and violent relationships for many years in her role as a barrister

A former equal rights lawyer and basketball coach have been recognised in the New Year Honours list.

Ex-barrister Vera Baird said being made a dame for services to women gave equality "a boost".

Newcastle Eagles player-coach Fab Flournoy has been appointed MBE for services to basketball.

Retired Northumberland chief fire officer Alex Bennett has been awarded the Queen's Fire Service medal.

He was described as being "innovative" while leading the service through £2m budget cuts in the last two years and the closure of Haydon Bridge Fire Station.

Image caption,
Fab Flournoy won his third clean sweep of all four BBL honours with the Eagles in 2015

Ms Baird, a former Labour MP for Redcar who is also Northumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner, acted for miners arrested during the 1984 strike.

She also represented Emma Humphreys, whose murder conviction was reduced to manslaughter in a case about the implications of the law of provocation for battered women who kill their violent partners.

Flournoy is the most successful coach in the British Basketball League with 22 trophies, including a third clean sweep in 2015.

Image source, Northumberland Fire Service
Image caption,
Alex Bennett led the Northumberland Fire Service through £2m budget cuts

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