by Lucy Lethbridge
CATHOLIC novelist Muriel Spark has received a DBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list. Dame Muriel, as she will be known, has lived in Italy for 30 years and is a convert to Catholicism.
Writer John Mortimer told the Catholic Herald that Spark, among whose books is The Abbess of Crewe, a darkly humorous novel set in a convent. is "the best English novelist. She has a voice of her own funny and profound."
Rumer Godden, a Catholic writer honoured with an OBE, was described by her editor at Macmillan as "one of the few people who can write equally well for children and adults".
Among other Catholics who hit the honours list are Colonel Alan Niekirk, chairman of the territorial auxiliary and voluntary reserve association's pension plan, who received a CBE, and Sr Carina Muldoon, director of St Joseph's training school in Northern Ireland, who received an OBE for services to young people. Sergeant PJ Hersey of the RAF received a Royal Victorian Medal.
Miss Joanna Mckie, who has been clerk to the board of Christian Aid for 18 years, received an MBE for which she was delighted although she told the Catholic Herald that it "came as something of a shock".
Mrs Trudie Cox, the matron of St Luke's Hospice in Basildon, Essex received an MBE. Mrs Cox, who has run St Luke's for 10 years, said that she accepted the award on behalf of the Basildon community and "especially the patients and their families who have made the place and the vision what it is."