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Essex Olympian Saskia Clark and Saxmundham contemporary artist Ryan Gander receive New Year's Honours

PUBLISHED: 14:53 01 January 2017 | UPDATED: 08:30 03 January 2017

Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark, 470.  Sailing World Cup, Hyeres, 27th April - 1st May 2016  British Sailing Team image. For further information please contact team.media@rya.org.uk. © Copyright British Sailing Team.

Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark, 470. Sailing World Cup, Hyeres, 27th April - 1st May 2016 British Sailing Team image. For further information please contact team.media@rya.org.uk. © Copyright British Sailing Team.

© Richard Langdon

An Olympic medal-winner and a contemporary artist with links to the region, were among the inspirational people to receive New Year's Honours, it has emerged.

Saskia Clark, 37, the Olympic gold medallist from Mersea Island, has become a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), while Ryan Gander a conceptual artist who lives in Saxmundham and London, became an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE).

They join the dozens of community stalwarts from Suffolk and north Essex who received New Year’s Honours, as reported in the EADT on Friday night.

Saskia and her sailing partner Hannah Mills were given the honour in recognition of their services to sailing,

The pair, who won gold in the Rio Olympic Games, were among dozens of sporting figures honoured for making 2016 a record-breaking year for Great Britain.

Saskia, who is now based in Dorset, had received a hero’s welcome when she returned to her former yacht club in West Mersea after winning the medal.

After 16 years as a competitive sailor, Saskia announced her retirement soon after the Games.

Upon receiving her MBE, she tweeted: “This happened ... true story!”

Ryan Gander, 40, who received his OBE for services to contemporary art, has held regular exhibitions at galleries across the world.

“I’m shocked to be earmarked for an OBE for services to contemporary art,” he said,

“I feel like I’m the luckiest guy in the world anyway to get to do a job I love so much so I didn’t expect to be honoured for it.

“It’s an optimistic way to end what has politically been the most miserable, negative and aggressive year in my life time, so let’s hope it’s a good omen and that in 2017 we can all find a little more empathy for one another”.

His work is described “defying categorization” and includes installations, sculptures, photos, texts, and reproductions that present “wittily inconclusive narratives about art, culture, and the artist’s personal experiences”.

Mr Gander, who is a wheelchair user, is based between London and Saxmundham, where he lives with his wife Rebecca and two daughters Penny and Olive. He is also building a studio complex in Melton, near Woodbridge, and his parents live in Campsea Ashe.

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