Smithfield Market champion leads Islington’s New Year honours charge

ONE of the longest-serving traders at Smithfield Market has been honoured by the Queen.

Peter Martinelli started out at the Finsbury meat market in 1953 – when he was an unemployed dad-of-two looking for work.

Fifty-seven years later, the 80-year-old is still trading – although the family business, PJ Martinelli, is run by his son Paul. Now he has been given an MBE in the New Year Honours.

Mr Martinelli said: “In 1954, meat came off the ration and the whole market exploded. Then 20 years ago, when the market was under real threat by City interests, we uncovered the techniques to become members of the City of London council. As a result, we became a powerful force and that’s why we are still here.

“My whole occupation for the past 50 years has been to promote the market in any way I can. We are the last bastion of defence against the supermarkets, who would like to control the meat trade but can’t.”

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Mr Martinelli, who has a son, grandson and great-grandson named after him, added: “The recipient of the award is really Smithfield Market – and they have just printed my name on it because I am the oldest person.”

Others praised in the New Year Honours List include a headteacher who turned around a struggling primary school and a businessman who has spent years trying to regenerate Finsbury Park.

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Nitsa Sergides decided to enter the teaching profession after a stint as a nursery nurse at Pakeman Primary School in Hornsey Road, Holloway. She worked there for 19 years and then at nearby Grafton Primary School in Eburne Road, Holloway, for another 19 – all but two as its headteacher.

Mrs Sergides, 59, who has been awarded an OBE, said: “I feel really quite excited and honoured and humbled that somebody should consider me for such a prestigious award.

“Grafton had a lot of difficulties in its early days. It was one of the most needy schools in the borough, it had just been amalgamated and there were not a lot of children. Now we have an incredible waiting list, excellent results and have been rated ‘outstanding’ for two inspections running.

“Islington has always been a good borough and its schools have improved throughout that time. Every day I wake up and thank God that I am able to give the children another day.”

Businessman Paul Morris is awarded an OBE. Mr Morris is one of the five sons of the late Sam Morris – who in the 1980s turned the crumbling Royal Agricultural Hall in Upper Street into the Business Design Centre.

For years, Mr Morris has also worked to regenerate Finsbury Park – where the family’s original shopfitting business was based and where the family is now investing �80million into redeveloping the City North site.

Mr Morris, who chaired the regeneration body Finsbury Park Partnership for seven years before founding successor organisation FinFuture, said: “There is a lot that still needs to be done. It’s a matter of trying to bring in investment to the area. It’s a wonderful multicultural society but it needs further financial investment to give it a facelift.”

Mr Morris, who stepped down from FinFuture last month to concentrate on his role as a Conservative councillor in Hertfordshire, follows his brother Jack Morris – chairman of the Business Design Centre – in receiving an OBE.

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