New Year’s Honours: Distinguished economist knighted and Phantom of the Opera choreographer Gillian Lynne made dame

Richard Blundell has been knighted for services to economics and social science. Picture: Picasa

Richard Blundell has been knighted for services to economics and social science. Picture: Picasa - Credit: Archant

A renowned economist has celebrated a knighthood by watching the fireworks on top of Parliament Hill on New Year’s Eve.

Prof Richard Blundell, 61, of Hampstead, revealed to friends and family on Tuesday night that he has received one of the highest honours in the land, toasting a long and successful career that spans more than 30 years.

The knighthood recognises Sir Richard’s dedicated contribution to economics and social sciences as Ricardo professor of political economy at University College London (UCL) and as research director at the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

“It was a complete surprise,” said the married father-of-two, of Courthope Road.

“I had no idea why somebody should pick me, but it’s very nice they did.”

He said the award is a recognition of his work linking academic research with policy at the Institute of Fiscal Studies, a research institute that produces an influential journal.

“Being a professor at UCL for 30 years, I actually created a group of what is called econometricians (econometrics is the testing of the performance of economies and economic theories using mathematical methods).

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“Then at the same time I have been research director for more than 25 years at the institute, which has had a big influence on policy.

“The combination of this is still the most exciting part of my career.”

The former Lord Mayor of London, Michael Gifford, of Camden Town, is also knighted for services to international business, culture and the City of London.

Married father-of-two Sir Michael, the current British ambassador to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, has worked in the government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office for more than 20 years.

Camden has also seen choreographer Gillian Lynne, of Hampstead, and Prof Celia Hoyles, of Camden Town, made dames for their contributions.

Dame Gillian, 87, choreographed more than 50 West End and Broadway shows but she is best known for her work on the original productions of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats and The Phantom of the Opera.

Dame Celia was honoured for her services to education as former director of the National Centre for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics and as a professor at the Institute of Education in Bloomsbury.