Honours and Awards

National Awards

His Majesty The King is the fount of honour in the UK. Awards can be given to individuals, groups of volunteers or businesses. Whilst petitions and media campaigns can raise profiles and even demand awards, they won’t actually be awarded until someone nominates them first. Nominations are straightforward and anyone can nominate. That someone can be you.


An OBE for a female and other medals of the Order of the British Empire
An OBE for a Female Recipient

UK Honours consist of several Orders and Gallantry Awards. The most common honours are within the Order of the British Empire (BEM, MBE, CBE etc.) and are ordinarily awarded at New Year and in June. They are given to individuals only.

The honours system recognises people who have:

  • made achievements in public life or
  • committed themselves to serving and helping Britain
  • made life better for other people or be outstanding at what they do but they must still be actively involved in what you’re nominating them for.

An independent committee decides whether someone receives an honour and also what honour they receive so you don’t need to worry about understanding or identifying the different types of honour, you just need to provide evidence of the work the person has done. You don’t need to wait until someone has done a lifetime of work to nominate them; usually 3-5 years of outstanding work will suffice, and they can be awarded higher awards if the impact of their work, then widens or grows. You just re-nominate them to have their award uplifted.

It is a rolling nomination system so there are no deadlines for submission. The nomination procedure is confidential i.e., the person you are nominating must not know that they are being or have been nominated. This doesn’t mean however that you can’t get others to help you.

Further information, guidance and how to nominate can be found here:

King’s Award for Voluntary Service

The King's Award for Voluntary Service Logo

The King’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to volunteer groups across the UK. It is known as the MBE for groups of volunteers.

Any group of 3 or more people doing volunteering work can be nominated for the award. The majority of the group must be volunteers, and more than half the volunteers must have the right to live in the UK.

To be nominated they should have been doing outstanding work for at least 3 years that:

  • is led by volunteers, not paid staff
  • is based in the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man
  • provides a specific and direct benefit to their local communities

The nomination process will run between June and September in 2023 and if successful they will be awarded the following year. Anyone who is independent from the group can nominate and it is an on-line process only. An independent committee decides whether a group receives an award but part of the assessment process is done locally by the Lieutenancy and so the group need to know that you are nominating them and need to be happy to receive the award if successful. They can also help to provide you with the information needed to complete the nomination.

Further information, guidance and how to nominate can be found here:

King’s Award for Enterprise

The Lord-Lieutenant poses with a group from the Co-Op in a we support Fairtrade frame
The Lord-Lieutenant supporting Fairtrade Fortnight in March 2023 during a visit to the Co-Op to present them with their Award for Sustainable Development. Photo © Jon Super

The King’s Awards for Enterprise are for outstanding achievement by UK businesses in the categories of:

International Trade
Sustainable Development
Promoting Opportunity through Social Mobility

Businesses can nominate themselves for the award and the award lasts for 5 years. Your organisation must:

  • be based in the UK (including the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man)
  • have a good compliance record with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) – for example, showing you pay the right amount of tax on time
  • be a self-contained enterprise that markets its own products or services and is under its own management
  • have at least 2 full-time UK employees or part-time equivalents
  • demonstrate strong corporate social responsibility

Your organisation can be a business or non-profit.

The nomination process usually runs between May and September and if successful your business will be awarded the following year.

Further information, guidance, additional eligibility and how to nominate can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/kings-awards-for-enterprise

Don’t leave it to chance that someone else will nominate. The main reason that people, volunteer groups and businesses don’t get recognised is simply that no-one nominates them. Do the Honours!