Seven Barnet residents were celebrating after being given gongs in the Queen's Birthday Honours list this weekend.

Eric Shearly, 82, of Granville Road, Barnet, was awarded an MBE for his work as a teacher at Queen Elizabeth's School for Boys.

"I'm fortunate always to have been part of a damn good team. We've done our best to turn it into a damn good school, which it is, despite the politicians' best efforts," he said.

Mr Shearly first came to QE Boys, in Queens Road, Barnet, when he was nine and finished ten years later as captain of the school.

He was waiting to begin training as a police officer at Hendon when war broke out and he joined the Fleet Air Arm, Britain's sea-based air force.

At war, Mr Shearly cheated death on two occasions firstly when the boat he had been appointed to, HMS Exeter, was sunk with all hands by the Japanese a matter of days before he was due to join it.

His next ship, HMS Asturias, was torpedoed but did not sink.

After the war, Mr Shearly changed career tack and became head of Physical Education at QE Boys.

He became head of the Lower School before retiring in 1984 and has fond memories of his time there: "Some boys called me a bastard but at least they called me a just bastard," he said.

A former pupil, Councillor Brian Coleman, agreed. "That's a fair description he was an old dragon with a passionate devotion to the school," he said.

Mr Shearly remains a foundation governor on the school's board of trustees.

Sandra Unerman, 51, of Dale Grove, North Finchley, was awarded the CBE for her work as a Government lawyer.

"I'm very pleased I'm hoping my parents will be able to come with me to accept the award," she said.

Ms Unerman, who was brought up in Mill Hill and attended the now closed Orange Hill Grammar School, has worked for 27 years in the Planning, Local Government, Housing and Employment Directorate, formerly part of the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions.

Peter Russell, 76, of Graham Road, Hendon, received the MBE for his service to London's Jewish community his second encounter with the Royals in a month.

"It's a double honour I was also invited when the Queen visited Copthall stadium last month and sat at Prince Philip's table," he said.

Mr Russell has been a community stalwart since the 1960s and has chaired the Association of of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women and co-founded the Metropolitan Police's Jewish Police Association.

He served as a Special Constable in Hampstead between 1973 and 1983, sat on the Jewish Scouts Advisory Council and co-founded Phase II, a Jewish senior citizens club with his sister Anita, 74, who recommended him for the MBE.

"I was introduced to the Queen at Copthall Stadium earlier this month and she said, 'oh you are a busy person'. As one gets older one has to stay occupied," he said.

Philip Barbour, 81, of Golders Gardens, Golders Green, was awarded the MBE for his 30 years as treasurer of the Brook Advisory Centre, which provides advice and contraceptives to young people.

"I'm very pleased.

"I was asked whether I would accept and I did wonder the British empire doesn't exist anymore and it sounded funny but as someone recommended me I felt I would," he said.

A sociologist, Mr Barbour joined the Brook Centre in 1972 after bumping into its founder, Lady Brook who herself made a Dame while he was noting down parliamentary debate about contraception.

"I've always been concerned about young people and at that time they could not get proper advice family planning clinics would not give it unless you were married," he said.

Mr Barbour has also volunteered in the Oxfam shop in Finchley Road, Temple Fortune for many years.

Alexander Fry and his wife Sylvia Read, of Finchley Road, Golders Green, were both awarded the MBE for their 40 years as a two-person theatre company, the Theatre Roundabout.

The couple, on holiday in the south of France, said the news had come as a complete surprise.

"We are rather childishly thrilled," said Mr Fry, who refused to reveal his age for professional reasons. "You might be able to guess my wife's and an actress never reveals her age," he said.

Ms Read added: "We are rather amused. It's a very pleasant shock."

They have completed almost 4,000 performances together including adaptions suitable for church performances and have no plans to slacken the pace.

"It's a rewarding and exciting thing to do and that gives you the energy," said Mr Fry.

David Abrahamson, 69, of Litchfield Way, Hampstead Garden Suburb, was awarded the MBE for services to medicine.

A psychiatrist, he has been working to help rehabilitate psychiatric patients into the community in Newham since 1984.

"I am honoured. It's not just to do with me but the whole team in Newham.

"It's also down to the patients, who have shown they can improve after a long period of ilness," he said.

"We have a picture of community care going badly but in fact it is going quite well.

"I have known people over the course of 30 years and they have a much better quality of life in the community.

"I haven't had any serious incidents with patients and I think that is fairly typical for the country," he said.

June 21, 2002 15:00