Gifted Britons to be commemorated

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The anniversaries and achievements of ten of the most gifted Britons are to be celebrated on Royal Mail stamps in 2012.

Issued today, the Britons of Distinction launch celebrates ten distinguished individuals from the realms of science and technology, architecture, politics and the arts who have all made a major contribution to British society.

The achievements of architects Sir Basil Spence and Augustus Pugin are among those recognised in this set. Spence, notable for his work on Coventry Cathedral in this, the year of its Golden Jubilee, and Gothic revivalist Pugin, whose designs were instrumental in redesigning the Houses of Parliament after they were destroyed by fire in 1834,are celebrated.

Alan Turing, the brilliant mathematician and Enigma code breaker is featured, as is Odette Hallowes, the wartime secret agent. Joan Mary Fry, the noted pacifist and social reformer is also recognised for her tireless campaigning throughout and following the First World War.

Opera star Kathleen Ferrier, whose dazzling but tragically short career, noted for acclaimed performances to Handel, Mahler, Gluck and Elgar, among others, is celebrated alongside composer Frederick Delius. Delius, famed for pieces such as A Village Romeo and Juliet, Appalachia, Sea Drift and A Mass of Life, is celebrated alongside Ferrier for his contributions to the arts, as are textile designer and artist Mary ‘May’ Morris and author and scholar Montague Rhodes James.

Finally, Thomas Newcomen, the ironmonger from Dartmouth in Devon who changed the history of engineering through the creation of the atmospheric steam engine, also features.

The last time Royal Mail brought together ten different individuals and their achievements was with Eminent Britons in 2009. For each individual Briton recognised in this collection, 2012 heralds a significant birthday, anniversary or specific achievement.

Philip Parker, Royal Mail Stamps spokesperson, said: “Britons of Distinction celebrates important yet diverse individuals, sometimes separated by centuries, but brought together by genius.

“I think the stamps create a great sense of history, and capture both the achievement and endeavour of these exceptional people.”