A FAITH leader who helped reassure all communities in the wake of the Manchester Arena terror attack has been recognised in the Queen's New Year Honours.

Rabbi Warren Elf, who receives an MBE for services to the community, is one of two people from the borough to be honoured in this year's list.

Susan Lomas, from Prestwich, has been awarded the British Empire Medal for services to young people.

Mr Elf, who lives in Sunnybank, is described as playing a pivotal role as a faith leader in Greater Manchester and in developing strong links between people of different backgrounds, ethnicities and faiths. Through his work for the Faith Network for Manchester, he played a critical role following the Manchester Arena attacks in 2017, and was a leading voice in restoring calm and reassurance to all communities.

He told The Bury Times he shares the honour with all those people who are working to increase understanding and friendship.

Mr Elf, aged 59, said: "I feel very honoured to be receiving an MBE.

"I am proud of the work that I do in Manchester and in Bury in the area of interfaith work in particular. I believe it is important to develop community and social cohesion. We all have so many things in common and where there are differences between us and between different groups, I believe these enrich us and our community and are to be celebrated. I encourage others to realise this too.

"The voluntary work I have done and continue to do, in addition to my professional work as a Rabbi, teacher and community leader, has been focused on helping those I meet and work with to understand this. I look for and create opportunities for us to meet, know and understand each other.

"I think this is very important in our society at this time and am honoured that the significance of this work is recognised. I share this honour with all those good people who are also working to increase understanding, cohesion and friendship in Bury, Manchester and further afield."

In the immediate aftermath of the Manchester attack, Mr Elf attended the strategic emergency meeting at Manchester Cathedral, and was involved in planning community responses with Manchester City Council and other statutory agencies including Greater Manchester Police. This involved arranging and giving interviews, as well as organising visits of support to demonstrate cross-communal unity in the face of terror.

Mr Elf also organised a series of around 20 vigils and other gatherings for the faith communities. He organised the Manchester participation in a joint commemoration event, symbolically linking the arena attack with the London Bridge act of terrorism. This brought together over 200 people to span the bridge at Media City in Salford Quays. On the first anniversary of the attack, he worked with Muslim, Hindu and Sikh colleagues, and with the Dean of Manchester, to arrange a commemorative service at Manchester Cathedral.

Mr Elf is a prominent member of Manchester’s Challenging Hate Forum, helping to organise the annual Peace and Unity event in the city. He is also co-Chair of a national charity (FODIP), which promotes positive dialogue within and between the Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities on the Middle East and facilitates workshops for young people.

Mrs Lomas said she was "touched" to have been nominated.

The 64-year-old's works in supporting the Beavers Clubs through the Scouting Association.

Becoming a voluntary leader of the Beavers Group in Prestwich shortly after it was formed in 1983, she has continued to act as a leader ever since, holding events every week throughout the many decades of service she has provided, particularly stepping up when other voluntary leaders have been absent to keep the youth programmes running, constantly devoting extra hours of her time.

Mrs Lomas has been described as showing great determination in ensuring activities are varied, inclusive and designed to strengthen the confidence of young people, ranging from outdoor play to demonstrations from local police, fire brigade or guide dogs associations, to day-trips for pantomime visits, the last of which has involved organising a trip for up to 200 people.

She said: "I am so proud, and touched, to have been nominated for the award. I couldn't have imagined when I started the adventure 35 years ago that I would still be involved today. Working with the children has created many lasting memories, and, also presented challenges for us all along the way, but I can honestly say how rewarding it's been seeing the youngsters grow in confidence. I am truly humbled to accept the recognition bestowed on me."