Colors: Blue Color

Athletics coach Lloyd Cowan, who helped Christine Ohuruogu to the Olympic 400m title in 2008, has died.

Cowan represented England in the 110m hurdles at the 1994 Commonwealth Games before becoming a coach. As well as the Olympic title, he coached Ohuruogu to 400m silver at London 2012 and 4x400m relay bronze in 2008 and 2016.

A UK Athletics statement said: "We are deeply saddened by the passing of Lloyd Cowan MBE. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time." Coach Lloyd also guided England's Andy Turner to Commonwealth and European 110m hurdles titles in 2010 and coached his son Dwayne, who won a 4x400m bronze at the 2017 World Championships.

Britain's former Olympic 100m champion Linford Christie said on Twitter: "The world of track lost another family member, and it hurt more than I could have ever imagined."

Turner said he was "heartbroken" and triple-jumper Nathan Douglas described Cowan as "an inspiring soul". Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill said she was "absolutely gutted", adding "he always believed in me".

He was 58.

Clap for Carers is set to return under a new name of Clap for Heroes, the initiative's founder has said. The weekly applause for front-line NHS staff and other key workers ran for 10 weeks during the UK's first coronavirus lockdown last spring.

Founder Annemarie Plas tweeted that it would return at 20:00 GMT on Thursday.

Ms Plas said she hoped the initiative would "lift the spirit of all of us" including "all who are pushing through this difficult time The idea of clapping and banging pots from doorsteps originally began as a one-off to support NHS staff on 26 March - three days after the UK went into lockdown for the first time.

After proving popular it was expanded to cover all key workers and continued every Thursday for 10 weeks, with millions of people across the UK taking part. Members of the Royal Family and politicians including Prime Minister Boris Johnson also joined in with the show of support. However, the event later faced criticism for becoming politicised, with some suggesting the NHS would benefit more from extra funding than applause.

Last May, Dutch national Ms Plas, who resides in south London, did say that the weekly applause should end after its 10th week and instead become an annual event. At the time, she also said that the public had shown their appreciation and it was now up to ministers to reward key workers.

Ahead of the final clap, in May, she said: "Without getting too political, I share some of the opinions that some people have about it becoming politicised. I think the narrative is starting to change and I don't want the clap to be negative."

Longstanding volunteer of Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, Geoff Woodford, has now retired from his daily support of the rapid response, pre-hospital emergency service after 30 dedicated years. 

Octogenarian Geoff, from Rowley Regis in the West Midlands, started volunteering just three months after the charity was founded in May 1991, after a friend asked him to support the new service. Geoff’s initial response was: “I know nothing about the air ambulance, but I’ll find out.” On visiting the charity’s first portacabin office in Dudley, Geoff bumped into another friend, one of the service’s first employees, who asked a favour – to empty the first collection tin in Smethwick, and the rest, as they say, is history. 

Geoff Woodford, dedicated volunteer for Midlands Air Ambulance Charity looked back over his time with the service and recalls: “From emptying fundraising collection tins, attending talks and cheque presentations, and manning the demonstration helicopter pod at events, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute I’ve spent with everyone at the air ambulance. As a park ranger in my professional life, I always had to tell people off. Get off the grass, dismount your bicycle, or pick up your litter! Volunteering for Midlands Air Ambulance Charity meant I could always say yes as children could clamber into the helicopter pod and play happily; it was great to see.” 

In recognition of his service, Geoff was presented the Volunteer Award at the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity Recognition Awards and Charity Ball in 2013 and was also the winner of a Dudley Volunteer Award in 2015.

Volunteer manager for Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, Alison Hill, adds: “Geoff made it his mission to do all he could for Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, and did something every day to assist us. He always has time for everyone and is an incredible ambassador for the charity. He is admired by everyone, including staff, clinicians and his fellow volunteers and Geoff will always remain one of the team. Thank you just doesn’t seem enough, and we wish him, and his wife, May, all the best in their well-deserved retirement!”

Having the last word, Geoff says: “It has been an absolute pleasure to be part of the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity family. May, who has supported me throughout my entire life, and I, will still attend charity events and fundraisers as soon as we can.”

Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton has been knighted in a New Year Honours list. It comes 12 years after he received an MBE for services to motor racing at the end of 2008, the season that he won his first world championship title.

Hamilton took his seventh title in November. His knighthood comes after he equalled Michael Schumacher's title record and was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year for a second time.

The 35 year old was made an MBE in 2008 after winning his first F1 championship, but the Hertfordshire-born driver was reportedly previously overlooked for the top honour amid questions about his tax arrangements.

This year Motorsport UK launched a campaign with the All Party Parliamentary Group for Formula One for him to be nominated, with the organisation suggesting his business dealings had been "misunderstood".

He is also leading an almost ‘one-man’ fight against racism in his sport and says that the Black Lives Matter movement helped drive him on to his seventh Formula 1 world title – and further. He took a knee on the grid and wore anti-racism slogans in support of the cause during the season.

The Briton's Mercedes team also adopted a black livery for the 2020 campaign in a stand against discrimination.

As well as Black Lives Matter, Lewis also heads the ‘Hamilton Commission’ programme, which he set up to increase diversity in motorsport, the power of sport to bring positive change, electric cars and animal rights.

Ex-footballer Jimmy Greaves and musician Craig David become MBEs.

When Innocent Havyarimana started his soap-making business in Kenya's Kakuma refugee camp in early 2015, he was trying to move on from the traumatic events that had made him flee his native Burundi a year earlier. Little did he know that his cottage enterprise would become a major weapon in the fight against coronavirus in one of the world's biggest settlements of its kind - Kakuma is home to almost 200,000 people.

As soon as the former chemistry student realised the importance of hand-washing in tackling the spread of Covid-19, he lowered prices and started to offer his products in smaller quantities and sizes, to make them more affordable.

"Everyone needs soap but not everybody is able to afford it. So I lowered the prices, as it was more important to protect people than to think of profit," the 35-year-old said. "I had to increase my production by 75% to meet the demand when the pandemic started, so Covid-19 has been good for my business. But I made sure I gave free soap to vulnerable people such as the elderly and the disabled." Havyarimana's initiative has been praised by the UNHCR, the UN's refugee agency, which often highlights the contribution of refugee entrepreneurs to their host communities.

Eujin Byun, a spokesperson for UNHCR in Kenya, said: "The refugees are playing a pivotal role in helping contain the spread of Covid-19 in Kakuma. They helped in many ways, from disseminating information about the virus to helping people take the necessary measures."

She added that she wasn’t surprised by Havyarimana's decision to lower prices. "Refugees are very community-oriented and they will look after each other. They have previously stepped up and helped us do our jobs in situations like that." Mr Havyarimana currently employs 42 people in his business, named Glap Industries - short for God Loves All People.

The bulk of the workers are refugees but 18 are Kenyans from the town of Kakuma. Glap supplies local businesses and institutions outside the camp and even relief agencies. "The agencies buy my soaps to give away to refugees who cannot afford them and for their own staff too," the Burundian proudly notes.

Havyarimana is not the only local soap merchant, but he does not fear the competition, and in fact offers classes to teach people how to make cleaning products. "I want to mentor women and younger people so they can have an opportunity to become self-reliant and improve their lives like I did," he says. "I want to help the community in any way." Efforts like his may have helped keep Covid-19 at bay in Kakuma.

The most recent UNHCR figures, dating from 24 December, show that there had been 341 confirmed cases with 19 people under medical care. There have been 10 deaths from the virus. Kenya has registered nearly 100,000 cases nationally, with around 1,700 deaths, health ministry figures show.

Political instability and violence have forced more than 300,000 people to flee Burundi to neighbouring African countries in the last decade, according to the UNHCR. Havyarimana was in the middle of his chemistry studies at the University of Burundi when he left. He says his life was in danger and that he was receiving death threats from relatives of his late mother, who also seized his home.

After arriving in Kakuma, he wanted to make money for himself, rather than relying on humanitarian aid. The camp sits in an isolated and arid region where the provision of basic services is a challenge for relief agencies. Exploring the region, he noticed there was not a soap factory, which meant that cleaning products had to be brought from elsewhere. He explains: "I had no idea of how to make soap, so I started surfing the web for some knowledge.”

He later enrolled in a soap-making course offered by the World Lutheran Federation aid agency, and with a loan from a former classmate in Burundi, he started the business alongside two helpers. He also received grants from relief agencies including the UNHCR and NGOs such as the African Entrepreneur Collective (AEC), which says it has supported more than 18,000 refugee entrepreneurs.

AEC's chair, Julienne Oyler, said: "Innocent's story shows how refugees can contribute to their host communities in a number of ways. Camps like Kakuma are so isolated that entrepreneurs like him are a lifeline to basic goods and services at a time of lockdowns and other restrictions."

A 2018 World Bank study identified over 2,000 businesses in Kakuma and estimated that they contributed more than $50m (£37m) to the local economy every year.

A new road within the Perry Barr Residential Scheme, in Birmingham, is to be named Bert Carless Way.

Alderman Egbert ‘Bert’ Sylvester Carless, made history when he was elected as Birmingham’s first Black councillor in 1979. He was elected a Labour member for Aston ward and served again in 1998-2002 for Ladywood ward.

Mr Carless, who migrated to Birmingham from Jamaica when he was 21, was a well-respected member of the community and served on the Council’s education committee for almost twenty years. He was passionate about speaking out against discrimination. His work was commemorated with an OBE in 1998. He died in 2003.

Bert Carless Way is situated within the new Perry Barr Residential Scheme, situated on the site of the former Birmingham City University Campus after the road became available because an existing road (Franchise Street) was stopped up and subsumed into the site.

Birmingham City Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment, Councillor Waseem Zaffar unveiled the new street name at Perry Barr Residential Scheme the construction and he was joined by local community activist Bishop Dr Desmond Jaddoo and Bert Carless’ great niece, Maxine Tomlinson.

Cllr Zaffar said: “The Council had been looking for ways to honour Bert for some time, and my Cabinet colleagues and I were engaging with local community leaders like Dr Desmond Jaddoo on the most appropriate way to do this. However, when I was told that the Residential Scheme had an unnamed road not covered by the street naming competition it seemed like the perfect opportunity. Bert Carless was an inspirational, respected figure who made great strides in achieving more equality and diversity in our city. Therefore, to have Bert Carless Way in amongst Equality Road, Diversity Grove, and Inspire Avenue is an appropriate and fitting tribute.”

Maxine Tomlinson said: “We are pleased to have finally arrived at this point where my uncle, Uncle Carless, is being recognised by Birmingham as the first person of African-Caribbean descent to have served as Councillor and Alderman of the city. Cllr Carless served tirelessly within his Ward representing all, and he has a strong and lasting legacy in championing equalities as well as serving on a number of committees across the city.” Lendlease is the principal contractor for the 1,400 homes within the Perry Barr Residential Scheme - part of the wider Perry Barr regeneration programme – which includes improved leisure and community facilities, upgraded transport infrastructure and 5,000 new homes.

Anna Evans, Lendlease’s Project Director at Perry Barr, said: “No finer choice could have been made. Bert Carless’ name will live on within the streets of the city he served with such dedication.”

It is expected the homes using the new street names will be ready for occupation in 2023.