I find the lists of public honours that are published twice a year, fascinating to read in part because of the possibility that there may be someone I know personally who has been awarded an honour. Over the last few years this has happened on several occasions and this edition is a case in point (see below). Along with the people a few of us may know personally, there are also many more people who are not well known to any large group of people. If we are to take the suggestion shown here from Tommy it makes great sense to promote their profiles so below there are some names to celebrate.
However as Tommy suggests every year there are also lists of people who receive awards who are very well known publicly or who act in a manner that provides them with public identity. Sadly these people often receive much higher rank awards than the people who are hard at work in more local settings, yet in certain cases their award may arise from activities that cause large numbers of people to have concerns about them. One option would be to call for reversal of the process so that the less well known local people get the higher awards enabling us to really celebrate their impact. However perhaps a more realistic approach is to expect that those who are nominated for a higher award, will have the explanation published. Perhaps at the highest level there would also be a list of those who have nominated the people concerned. This would ensure that there is an appropriate level of accountability or scrutiny for these high profile awards which carry a much higher status.
The need for scrutiny is clearly much more acute where the people who have received the honours are workers or donors for political parties which after all have immense power and almost negligible memberships when compared to other organisations such as charities and sports groups or local NHS, Police, Fire and Rescue, education or other public sector organisations which have high numbers of involvement and yet truly serve local people very extensively.
Elizabeth Wilson received a British Empire Medal for her work as the Chair of Uddingston Pride, an organisation which is made of a group of volunteers who focus on keeping a community near Glasgow which who work to make Uddingston clean, tidy, beautiful and full of community spirit! The group has a page on Facebook which is liked by 1722 people. This is significant as the town only has 5,000 residents.
Alan Williams is referred to in his local paper as a Lymm community champion and one of four Warrington residents to be receive a New Year honour. He received a British Empire Medal. Alan founded Lymm Historic Transport Day and helps co-ordinate the Lymm Heritage Centre and he has lived in Lymm for 25 years.
Joel Edwards is a man I have known for around 20 years and as well as his previous roles as a probation officer and as General Secretary of the Evangelical Alliance he is referred to as having tackled poverty and injustice which is only a small part of the roles he has played in the 20 years I have known him. Joel also has a background that relates to the Windrush generation. He has received a CBE which is a much more significant award than the BEM’s.
Finally John Redwood MP who has been given a knighthood which according to the document is because of his political and public service. This is identical to the description given to Gary Streeter MP who happens to come from the same political party, whereas the Labour MP, Alan Campbell apparently received his knighthood merely for political service. I confess I struggle to see how Streeter and Redwood differ from Campbell and it seems reasonable to ask the Honours Committee to explain why they have endorsed these different descriptions. It might also be reasonable for them to explain why they Honour these three MPs so much more than Elizabeth, Alan and Joel who have all provided extensive public services but been rewarded much less financially and in power terms over a similar length of time.