Receiving a British honour is an “truly humbling experience” which celebrates extraordinary people in the Commonwealth – but residents in Nottinghamshire are under represented among those recognised.
The Cabinet Office, which oversees the making of knights, dames and members of the British Empire, is now encouraging people in the country to make nominations in a bid to boost county recipients.
In the 2017 New Year Honours, 20 county residents received awards – 1.7 per cent of the total, in line with Nottinghamshire residents making up 1.7 per cent of the population.
However, this had fallen by more than half in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours with just nine Nottinghamshire people being recognised, 0.9 per cent of the awards made.
Mansfield businessman Malcolm Hall MBE, Olympic double swimming gold medallist Rebecca Adlington OBE, Vision West Nottinghamshire College chief executive and principal Dame Asha Khemka and Martin Rigley MBE, chief executive of Sutton-based Lindhurst Engineering, are mong those from the area who have been honoured in the past.
A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said Nottinghamshire is under represented and that overall the East Midlands were the second lowest area in the country for awards.
She said: “Everyone knows one worthy candidate and anyone can be nominated.”
She said there is also an award gap in ethnic minority, nominations for women at senior levels and entrepreneurs.
Dame Asha was made an OBE – Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire – and a Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 2014 in recognition of her services to further education, the first Indian-born person to be made a Dame – the female equivalent of a knighthood – in 83 years
In October 2014, she was appointed as an independent member of the education honours committee which reviews nominations for people who have made a significant contribution to the sector.
Dame Asha said: “Being made an OBE and DBE were truly humbling experiences and among the proudest moments of my life, both professionally and personally.
“The damehood, in particular, felt like 25 years’ of dedication to the sector had been recognised in a way I could never have dreamt about.
“However, it only comes by working with fantastic people who share the same vision and values. I regard the OBE and DBE as shared recognition, with all the wonderful colleagues who have worked with me and those who have been part of my journey.
“I have never set out to achieve titles and as soon as I was made a Dame, I immediately felt I’d inherited an extra level of responsibility – specifically, to use the title to make an even greater impact on the further education sector and to Mansfield and Ashfield.
“Whenever somebody who lives or works in our communities is recognised through the honours system, it puts Mansfield and Ashfield on the map by shining a light on the hard-working individuals, dedicated groups and charities, and plethora of businesses that we’re fortunate to have here. For me, that’s been one of the most positive aspects about all of this.
“That’s why I’d like to see even more people from our communities put forward for an honour. All of us can probably think of at least one person who has made a huge difference to the lives of others.
“We live in a country that is one of the best in the world.
“Today’s Britain represents huge economic, cultural and social diversity and it is important the honours system embraces that in a true sense by recognising people from all walks of life.
“Perhaps people are daunted by the nomination process and don’t know where to start. It’s actually a lot more simple to access than they might think.
“There are so many people who make a significant contribution to society that don’t receive the recognition they deserve. We need to put that right.”