NEW Year Honours for Wiltshire men and women included OBEs for the leader of Wiltshire Council, a man who has helped provide homes for thousands of people and a top furniture designer.

Richard Kitson, the former chief executive of housing corporation the Aster Group, has been honoured by the Queen for services to the housing sector.

Mr Kitson, 59, of Monkton Deverill, near Warminster, left Aster in September and currently chairs the Wiltshire Rural Housing Association.

He said the letter telling him of the award came out of the blue, adding: “It was a surprise which was appreciated. It’s for all those in the south west who have contributed to supplying affordable housing in the region.

“I faced different challenges at the different organisations I have worked for.”

Wiltshire Council leader Jane Scott is awarded an OBE for services to local government. She has led the county council from 2003 until this year’s transition to a unified council.

She said: “I am as pleased as I am surprised to receive this honour, which I regard as being one for Wiltshire, our lovely county.

“It has been a very good year for Wiltshire’s Council and I wish I could share this award with all the officers and members who have supported me in my 15 years in local government.”

Marian McNeir, of Avoncliff, has been made an MBE for services to the community in Bath.

Mrs McNeir, who works for the Arts Council in the South West region, has been a member of Bath and North East Somerset Council since 1995 and is currently Liberal Democrat councillor for Lyncombe.

She holds the title of Children’s Champion for her work with young people, has been Mayor of Bath and was one of the driving forces behind the city’s successful Christmas market.

Mark Wilkinson, 59, who overcame severe dyslexia to become one of the foremost furniture designers in the country, has also been made an OBE.

Mr Wilkinson, who with his wife Cynthia was until recently a director of Bromham-based Mark Wilkinson Furniture, has been recognised for services to the furniture industry and to charity.

He said: “I feel quite elated. It is fantastic. I wish my headmaster, who told me how useless I was, was alive so I could tell him how wrong he was.

“What a great country Britain is where a dyslexic kid from a council estate, who was written off as a waste of taxpayers’ money, can be recognised in this way.

“I tell my students how vile, violent, brutal environments create violent, brutalised people. As designers we have a responsibility to create environments that help people be better than that.”

Frome F1 champion Jenson Button said that being appointed an MBE was the crowning glory of a year that had begun with him unsure of his involvement in Formula One, after his car-maker, Honda, quit the sport.

Button secured the 2009 drivers’ title at the penultimate Grand Prix in Brazil.