The former director of Stonewall has been recognised in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List.

Angela Mason, who headed the gay equality organisation from 1993 to 2003, becomes a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). She was previously awarded the OBE.

Earlier this year she retired as head of the government’s Women and Equality Unit.

She now works as an adviser to the Improvement and Development Agency.

“We are very pleased for Angela,” said a Stonewall spokesperson.

“Her five years at the Women and Equality Unit were certainly remarkable.

“All the staff at Stonewall will be cracking open a bottle and we’re sure that Angela will have one too.”

Actor and activist Sir Ian McKellen, who was one of the founding members of Stonewall, was also honoured.

He becomes a Companion of Honour, one of the highest awards in the UK honours system.

“Stonewall is absolutely delighted that Sir Ian has been awarded a Companion of Honour,” said a spokesperson.

“Ian played a central role in the creation of Stonewall and has served as a wonderful role model to many millions of people around the world.”

The Order of the Companions of Honour consists of the Queen and 65 members, only 45 of whom are from the UK.

It recognises excellence in the arts, science, religion, politics and industry.

Sir Ian is now entitled to use the post-nominal letters CH.

Other UK members include former Prime Minister Sir John Major, former Labour Defence Secretary Lord Healey, the painter Lucien Freud, gay rights opponent Lord Tebbit, Professor Stephen Hawking, Lord Heseltine, Sir David Attenborough and Dame Judi Dench.

The Order’s badge is a gold oval-shaped medallion with a representation of an oak tree. Surmounted by an imperial crown, it has a blue-enamelled border bearing the motto of the Order, ‘In action faithful and in honour clear.’