Famous figure at Harrogate's iconic Bettys and Taylors is recognised in The King’s Birthday Honours List

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The former chair of Harrogate's famous Bettys and Taylors is to receive one of the highest awards in The King’s Birthday Honours List.

Lesley Margaret Wild, who was a key figure in the family business in Harrogate for four decades and was formerly Chair, is made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to Business and Trade in a list of honours in which more than 60 people from Yorkshire and Humberside are recognised by King Charles III.

After joining Bettys and Taylors in 1979 as Export Manager, Lesley Wild received The Queen's Award for Business on behalf of the iconic Harrogate brand in 2020, the same year she announced she was stepping down as Chair of the company which owns a series of tearooms, shops and the UK's number one tea brand, Taylors of Harrogate Yorkshire Tea.

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Sometimes described as “Bettys’ secret ingredient”, Lesley’s award of a CBE is one of Britain's highest honours, the highest ranking Order of the British Empire level.

Royal honour - Lesley Wild, who was a key figure in Bettys and Taylors in Harrogate for four decades and was formerly Chair, is made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. (Picture James Hardisty)Royal honour - Lesley Wild, who was a key figure in Bettys and Taylors in Harrogate for four decades and was formerly Chair, is made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. (Picture James Hardisty)
Royal honour - Lesley Wild, who was a key figure in Bettys and Taylors in Harrogate for four decades and was formerly Chair, is made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. (Picture James Hardisty)

A lawyer by training, Mrs Wild had originally attended art school and has had a lifelong love of cooking and baking, giving her a set of creative skills ideally suited to the family business.

She joined the company in the 1970s with her husband Jonathan and, in 1985, became a director of the firm.

She would go on to oversee the redesign of the Bettys menus, the opening of the cookery school, and the transformation of its tea business into an international success story.

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Also receiving an award in The King’s Birthday Honours List are four other notable Harrogate figures who have done so much for the community.

Elizabeth Bramall, Harrogate philanthropist and co-founder of The Liz and Terry Bramall Foundation, receives the CBE for services to charity.

Elizabeth Mary Whyte of Harrogate, Covid lead at HC-One, is made a Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to social care.

Josephine Carol Finnegan, 74, receives the BEM for services to Charitable Fundraising and the community in Harrogate, in particular as a fundraiser Marie Curie Charity.

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Charles John Shackleton, founder of Aid to Eastern Europe, receives an MBE for services to fundraising and the provision of humanitarian aid and medical equipment to Eastern Europe.

The Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire has paid tribute to the dedication and service of the North Yorkshire people who have been honoured in the King’s Birthday Honours.

Jo Ropner, who is the King’s representative for North Yorkshire, said: “Those who have been honoured in North Yorkshire come from a diverse range of roles that gives an indication of how varied life is in the county.

“However, they all share an immense dedication in their chosen fields, and they should all be rightly proud to be included in the King’s Birthday Honours.”

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The focus of The King’s Birthday Honours List 2024 is on those who have initiated substantial change where it was needed, and developed innovative solutions that have had an immeasurable impact on the lives of people.

Recipients from Yorkshire and Humberside make up 5.6% of the total number of award recipients this year.