An Honour is a rare and distinctive way of rewarding those doing vital and extraordinary work across the UK. It celebrates people who have gone above and beyond to change the world around them for the better. Those receiving an award will have made life significantly better for other people, have changed things for the better, or their work has brought distinction to British life or enhanced the UK's reputation in their area or activity.
As an honour is the highest recognition bestowed on an individual, it requires clear evidence of truly exceptional service above and beyond any normal expectation, including the duration of the activity or activities, the breadth of the impact in terms of population and area, and the terms of its benefits to the community, organisation or service.
Although duration is an important factor, long service alone is unlikely to suffice. Evidence of a range of beneficial activities is generally more powerful than a single effort, especially in the higher honours. Nominations involving individuals who have excelled in paid employment must demonstrate a level of contribution beyond reasonable expectations of their post, role and salary level.
Nominations are particularly welcomed for 'local heroes' who are well respected by local people and who have made a difference in their neighbourhood. Over half of all awards go to people who are putting something extra into the community on a voluntary basis.
Nominations can be made online or by post. Full details are included in the Government Website together with a detailed explanation of the process and a document containing advice on how to write an application.
There are no deadlines for nomination forms but the process is likely to take at least 12 to 24 months. Nominations should be made while the candidate is still active and, if possible, at least 12 months before they are expected to retire or stand down.
The honours awarded are:
British Empire Medal (BEM) - Awarded for very 'hands-on' service to the community in a local geographical area. Presentations of BEMs are made locally;
Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) - Recognises an achievement or service in and to the community which is outstanding in its field has delivered a sustained impact and which stands out as an example to others;
Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) - Recognises those who have performed a distinguished regional or county-wide role in any field, through achievement or service to the community including notable practitioners known nationally.
Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) - Recognises a prominent national role, conspicuous leading role in regional affairs through achievement or service to the community, or a highly distinguished, innovative contribution in his or her area of activity.
Damehood or Knighthood (DBE or KBE) – Recognises a pre-eminent contribution in any field, usually at a national level or in a capacity which will be recognised by peer groups as inspirational and significant nationally and demonstrates sustained commitment.
To find out more information about the individual honours, visit the Cabinet Office website.