Receiving an honour from the Queen is the very height of national recognition. We’re all familiar with the sight of famous faces being invited to the Palace, standing in front of the Queen and proudly holding their medals to the cameras in the courtyard.
But the honours system is about so much more than that. Far from being the preserve of the rich and famous, the system celebrates the extraordinary achievements of people from all walks of life across the UK – people who have made a truly remarkable contribution to their communities.
Recently, I was privileged to meet Ruth Owen from Whizz-Kidz, who received an OBE for improving the lives of disabled children; as well as Emma Colyer from Body and Soul, who received an MBE for devoting her working life to helping children and families affected by HIV. These are two exceptional ladies, whose dedication to helping others led to them being honoured by the Queen.
Every year, away from the headlines, hundreds of unsung heroes just like these receive honours – people like 22-year-old Anisa Haghdadi, who received a British Empire Medal after establishing a street dance company for under-privileged young people; or Sola Afuape, who received an MBE for tirelessly promoting better health awareness amongst ethnic minority communities. People like these represent British society at its very best – the nation should be proud of them.
However, for every inspiring story of selflessness we hear, there are many people who are still missing out on the recognition they deserve. This is especially the case for people from Black and ethnic minority backgrounds; in recent honours lists, just 6% of recipients were from BME backgrounds. We need your help to put that right.
So, how can you help us? The answer to that is simple: you can tell us who you think should get an honour from the Queen. The honours system is open to all; anyone is eligible for an honour, and anyone can submit a nomination.
The best way to achieve an honours list that is truly representative of the UK is to make sure we receive nominations from all communities. I’m sure many readers of Keep The Faith readers of Keep The Faith know an inspirational, unsung hero, who goes out of their way to help others, often with no expectation of reward.
If you know someone who exemplifies these traits, someone who makes a real impact in their community or workplace, we want to know about them. With your help, we can ensure that the system continues to reward those who truly deserve it. The nomination process is very simple; just go on to our website for a nomination form, or call the Honours Team at the Cabinet Office on 020 7276 2777, and they can talk you through the process.
Receiving an honour is a proud and uplifting occasion – not only for the recipients, but also for their family, friends and the communities of which they are a part. So, please do the honour, tell us about your community champions, and it could very well be them making the journey to the Palace.
The UK Honours System – The Process Explained
The honours system is open to all
Anyone can nominate someone for an award, and anyone can receive an award. The nomination form is available from the Honours and Appointments Secretariat in the Cabinet Office on 020 7276 2777, or from www.gov.uk/honours.
The nominator will need to set out what is special about their nominee’s achievements and how they make a difference. There is guidance on the website on how to make a nomination stand out. The nomination needs to be accompanied by two or more letters of support from others who know the candidate.
Selections are made by independent committees
Once a nomination has been received by the Cabinet Office, it will be sent to one of the specialist committees to consider. These committees comprise a majority of expert members, independent of Government – and cover several different fields: Community, Voluntary and Local Service; Education; Science and Technology; the Economy; Health; Sport; Politics and services to the State.
Membership of each committee is set out at www.gov.uk/honours-committees. These committees will decide on their worthiest candidates, and on the most appropriate category of honour (for example, British Empire Medal, MBE, OBE, CBE, Knighthood/Damehood).
The chairs of each of the nine honours committees then take their committee’s recommendations to the Main Honours Committee, chaired by the Head of the Civil Service, to agree the final list of honours recipients to send to the Queen.