A football player who was left paralysed from the chest down after a horror crash is being honoured with an MBE.

George Dowell is one of dozens of people from across Sussex to be recognised in the New Year Honours list.

He was just 17 when his life was changed for ever. He was involved in a crash which left him wheelchair bound.

He was playing for Worthing FC, at the time a struggling club, and decided to take ownership of it at the end of the 2014/15 season.

The Argus: George played for Worthing FC as a teenager before buying itGeorge played for Worthing FC as a teenager before buying it (Image: Instagram/@gdowell)

George, now 31, used his compensation pay-out to invest in the club, wiping all its debts and paying for a new 3G pitch.

He also paid for The Rebels Tavern, the pub at the club's Woodside Road ground, to have a complete makeover, converting it into The 7HQ Sports Bar and Cafe and continuing general improvements to the ground.

George, who has just become a father, said he was “blown away” by the honour.

“I thought it was a scam,” he told The Argus. “I was completely shocked by it to be honest. I honestly don’t know how I got it. I did ask, ‘how did this come about?’ I guess someone has put my name forward.”

The Argus: George and his girlfriend Jessikah Lopez, with whom he has just had a babyGeorge and his girlfriend Jessikah Lopez, with whom he has just had a baby (Image: Instagram/@gdowell)

George and his girlfriend Jessikah Lopez have been working to raise awareness of George’s disability.

He suffered a spinal cord injury and is tetraplegic, meaning all his limbs are affected.

George said: “Although I never set out to buy the club to inspire people, we get messages from other people in my situation saying they see my story and it gives them hope.

“That is always nice to hear.”

George, who will receive his award at an official event in 2024, was awarded the MBE for services to association football and to disability awareness

“I can’t quite believe I will have the letters MBE at the end of my name,” he said.

Kathy Caton, the founder of Brighton Gin, also receives an MBE.

The Argus: Kathy Caton founded Brighton Gin in 2012Kathy Caton founded Brighton Gin in 2012

The honour is for her services to trade and the community in Brighton.

Kathy told The Argus: "It has been ridiculous. I'm really massively taken by surprise – and a bit embarrassed by some of the nice things people have said.

"It has been such a tough couple of years. We plug away in our distillery in Portslade day in, day out, so it's amazing for it to be recognised."

The 49-year-old built up Brighton Gin from humble beginnings in 2012 and now employs seven full-time staff and exports to ten markets including Australia, North America and Taiwan.

Liam Hackett, who lives in Brighton and founded the global youth charity Ditch The Label, is also awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours list. 

The Argus: Liam Hackett runs an international charityLiam Hackett runs an international charity

It recognises his contribution to the charity sector and supporting young people across the UK to navigate issues such as bullying, mental health, identity and relationships.

Liam, now 32, started campaigning when he was just 15.

Today Ditch The Label reaches millions of young people globally and provides advice and support both online and in classrooms.

Giles Duley, a photographer who lives in St Leonards, also receives an MBE.

He was with the US 75th Cavalry Regiment in Afghanistan in 2011 when he stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED). He lost both his legs and his left arm.

The Argus: Giles Duley has been given an MBEGiles Duley has been given an MBE (Image: Alice Denny)

Since then, the 52-year-old has supported survivors of conflict and his community in Sussex.

In 2017 he set up The Legacy Of War Foundation charity to support survivors of conflict around the world. The foundation also trains prosthetists in conflict zones to ensure that civilians who are injured have access to experts.

Giles is honoured for his services to survivors of conflict.

Several other people across Sussex receive a British Empire Medal (BEM). They are:

  • Janice Sheward – While battling breast cancer, Janice was told she would not be able to return to her former active lifestyle. But the 78-year-old, from Littlehampton, decided to pursue safe ways to exercise as a cancer patient and she ran a Race for Life only six months after going into remission. She set up a charity called Cancer United and receives her BEM for services to people with cancer in West Sussex
  • Nicola Hawkins – The 66-year-old from Bexhill set up Hastings and Rother Mediation Service to serve the residents of Hastings and St Leonards at a time when mediation was relatively unheard of. She receives her BEM for services to the community in Hastings and Rother
  • Geraldine Constable – Geraldine from Hailsham has been honoured for her services to the community in her town. The 80-year-old has a leading role in the charity club Hailsham Lions and helps allocate funding
  • Felicity De Grave Hills – Felicity receives a BEM for her services to Hastings. For the last 65 years, she has been a member of the Hastings and Ore Camera Club, serving as secretary and then treasurer. The 90-year-old has also been involved with her local dial-a-ride service for 26 years, starting in 1996. This is a vital transport service for people with mobility issues
  • Jonathon Willcocks – Director of The Chichester Singers, Jonathon receives his BEM for services to music. The 70-year-old also provides music tuition for toddlers. His commitment to music is longstanding, with Chichester choir having just celebrated their 40th year under his direction.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “The New Year Honours list recognises the exceptional achievements of people across the country and those who have shown the highest commitment to selflessness and compassion.

“To all honourees, you are the pride of this country and an inspiration to us all.”

Anyone can nominate someone for an honour. If you know someone who has achieved fantastic things worthy of recognition, go to https://www.gov.uk/honours to find out more about how you can put them forward.