Frontline responders and community volunteers honoured in most diverse honours list ever

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Frontline workers and community champions dominate the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2020, published on Saturday 10 October.

This bumper List showcases 414 exceptional contributions of unsung heroes in all four nations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and is the most ethnically diverse list to date, with 13% of recipients from a minority ethnic background.

The Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2020 awards 1,495 honours to people across the whole of the UK for their outstanding contributions to UK society.

Of those who have been awarded, 72% go to those who have worked tirelessly for their local community. This reflects the huge voluntary effort across the country in response to COVID-19, with recipients cumulatively supplying millions of free meals to those shielding, delivering care packages to NHS frontline workers and clocking up countless voluntary hours to support those at risk.

David Maguire MBE, 62 years old, from Glasgow, who repurposed his restaurant to provide free food to thousands of NHS workers at the hospital, vulnerable people and school children.

Jolene Miller BEM, 42 years old, from Stockton, County Durham, who volunteered as a paramedic to help her former colleagues while also continuing to work as a train driver.

Healthcare and social care workers make up 14% of the List, for contributions as diverse as setting up the COVID-19 hospitals to delivering medical care on the frontline. Celebrating the World Health Organisation’s Year of the Nurse and Midwife, 41 nurses and midwives are included in the List compared with 17 in the New Year Honours List 2020.

Jade Cole BEM, 39 years old from Cardiff, was the only member of her team able to enter the intensive care unit to deliver clinical trials which informed how COVID-19 patients were treated. Her work helped show that there was a survival advantage for patients prescribed a particular drug.

Felicia Kwaku OBE, 52 years old from London, is Associate Director of Nursing at King’s College NHS Foundation Trust, who provided a support network to thousands of BAME nurses.

The Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2020 is the first List to have 11% of recipients under 30. Young people have provided innovative solutions to keeping the country connected and supplying the NHS with Personal Protective Equipment.

Henry James BEM, 23 years old from Edinburgh, designed, created and delivered PPE for healthcare workers, using 3D printing technology. He’s supplied thousands of masks to local businesses, vets, care workers and local food distribution all free of charge.

John Challenger BEM, 17 years old from Flintshire, Clwyd, kept thousands of Sea Cadets together through lockdown, running weekly virtual quizzes and managing forums to keep Cadets connected.

Footballer Marcus Rashford receives an MBE for services to vulnerable children in the UK during Covid-19.

Joe Wicks and Mr Motivator (Derrick Evans) receive MBEs for their accessible, live workouts to encourage people to stay physically and mentally fit during Covid-19. Joining them are Lavina Mehta and Rajinder Singh Harzall ‘the Skipping Skih’ who receive MBEs for encouraging elderly people to stay active in lockdown.

The majority of the Queen’s Birthday Honours List was compiled before the ongoing pandemic. The List was deferred in order to consider nominations for people playing crucial roles during the first months of the COVID-19 effort and has prioritised frontline and community heroes who went above and beyond their duties to help others. These recipients are, like Sir Captain Tom Moore, outstanding examples of the many contributions continuously being made right across the UK, and symbolic of the collective national effort.

As well as those awarded for their response to COVID-19, recipients are being recognised for a wide range of other contributions to society.

There are damehoods for food writer and broadcaster Mary Berry and actress Maureen Lipman, and a knighthood for actor David Suchet.

There are CBEs for Professor Brian Cox, TV presenter Lorraine Kelly, actor Adrian Lester and singer-songwriter Joan Armatrading.

Former rugby legend Gareth Thomas receives a CBE, writer Sally Wainwright receives an OBE, and cricketer Darren Gough is awarded an MBE.

The honours system strives to be proportionally representative of UK society. This Honours List demonstrates the breadth of service given by people from all backgrounds from all across the UK. Of the 1,495 people who received an award:

  • 1,358 candidates have been selected at BEM, MBE and OBE level:
    • 537 at BEM
    • 561 at MBE
    • 260 at OBE
  • 1,069 (72%) of the recipients are people who have undertaken outstanding work in their communities either in a voluntary or paid capacit
  • 740 women are recognised in the List, representing 49% of the total
  • 13% of the successful candidates come from a BAME background (previous highest was 12% in NY19)
  • 6% of the successful candidates consider themselves to have a disability (under the Equality Act 2010)

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