A year that has seen Falmouth’s Ben Ainslie reach the pinnacle of his career has been topped off with a knighthood for the Olympics’ most decorated sailor.

Ben, who took his historic fourth Olympic gold medal in the London 2012 Games, is already a CBE and is one of only four members of Team GB to be given the knighthood.

The 35-year-old moved to Mylor as a young child and went to school in Penryn and later Truro School, learning to sail at Restronguet Sailing Club.

With his unmatched career beginning there, it was only fitting that the post box at Restronguet’s Pandora Inn should be the one to be painted gold by Royal Mail in August after he won the Olympic medal of the same colour in the Finn class.

Ben described the knighthood as “a really proud moment”, adding: “I hope also that all the people that have helped me over the years – family and friends and coaches – can also take some pride in this.”

He said he “couldn’t have achieved” the honour without them and that he never dreamt such a thing could happen when he began Olympic sailing 20 years ago.

Ben Ainslie’s knighthood follows an unparalleled career which has seen the Mylor sailor scale the pinnacle of his sport.

He first competed at the Olympics in Atlanta in 1996, winning a silver medal in the Laser class.

He improved by winning a gold medal in the same class at Sydney in 2000, before moving onto the Finn class at the Athens games in 2004, when he also won gold.

Ben followed that success by winning his third and fourth gold medals in the Finn category at Beijing in 2008 and at the London Olympics last summer – a result that made him the most successful sailor in Olympic history.

He has also win the Finn World Cup an unprecedented six times and has been declared world sailor of the year on four occasions.

Having announced his retirement from Olympic competition, ruling himself of the 2016 Games in Rio, Ben has now turned his focus onto the Americas Cup, with the formation of the Ben Ainslie Racing team.

Elsewhere in the world of sport, Ben’s fellow Olympian Helen Glover, who is originally from Penzance and took gold in the rowing women's pairs, has been made an MBE for services to rowing.

Tireless charity volunteers and top businessmen are among those in Cornwall who have been decorated in the New Year’s Honours list.

David Williams, managing director of WTW Cinemas – which includes Truro’s Plaza – has been made an MBE for services to regional cinema.

Mr Williams, 65, who has been in the industry since 1966 and became managing director in the 70s, took over the then-closed Plaza in 1996 and after extensive refurbishment reopened it in 1998.

His company also owns the White River Cinema in St Austell, The Regal in Wadebridge and the Lighthouse Cinema in Newquay.

Lugina Oates, from Redruth, is also to be an MBE, for services to the community in West Cornwall.

The Portreath Parish Council clerk has spent almost three decades working in the community, with roles over the years including secretary and treasurer of the Friends of Truro Samaritans, secretary for the League of Friends of Trengweath Hospital (later Longreach House) and a fundraiser for Macmillan Nurses.

She has been with the West Cornwall Cancer Friendship Group for more than 20 years, was chairman of the governors for Portreath School, worked with New Connections in Camborne looking after homeless people and has part of Meals on Wheels for more than two decades.

Finally in this area, American-born Dr Melissa Hardie-Budden has been made an MEB for services to heritage and the arts in West Cornwall.

She helped form the Hypatia Trust that was formed to support and oversee the maintenance, development and protection of the Hypatia Collections first brought together at the Jamieson Library in Newmill, Penzance.

For the first time in 20 years, British Empire Medals are also being given. These have not been handed out since 1992, but were brought back for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Among the recipients of these will be Alison Bevan, director of Penlee House at Penzance for services to cultural heritage in Cornwall, 84-year-old RSPCA fundraiser Dorothy Fisher from Camborne for services to animal welfare and the community in Cornwall, Amanda Kimmins for services to the community of St Agnes, and 64-year-old Phyllis Madron, volunteer fundraiser for the RNLI Penlee and Penzance, for services to maritime safety.

In the Military Honours list Lieutenant Commander Christopher ‘Damage’ Canning, former commanding officer of RNAS Culdrose’s 771 search and rescue squadron, has been made an MBE.

Cornish recipents in the New Year's Honours list Members of the Order of the British Empire Dr Melissa Hardie-Budden, services to heritage and the arts in West Cornwall (Penzance) Lugina Oates, services to the community in West Cornwall (Redruth) Kevin Penhale, services to border protection (Liskeard) David Williams, services to regional cinema (Wadebridge) Medallist of the Order of the British Empire Lynn Bartlett, services to the community in Polruan (Fowey) Alison Bevan, services to cultural heritage in Cornwall (Penzance) Dorothy Fisher, services to animal welfare and the community in Cornwall (Camborne) Amanda Kimmins, services to the community of St Agnes (St Agnes) Pamela Richards, services to the community in Foxhole (St Austell) Barbara Snowling, services to the community in Crafthole (Torpoint) Phyllis Madron, services to maritime safety (Penzance)