Excellence not Empire #renamehonours

A few weeks ago I was in a race equity peer training session led by the very brilliant Tessy Ojo. As we talked and listened I was reminded of the dilemma I faced when invited to accept an OBE. I want NOTHING at all to do with the Empire, yet I DO want the work of my organisation and the people who worked tirelessly for young people's sexual rights to be recognised. 

Poppy Jaman and Polly Neate both honoured by the system were in the same session. We talked afterwards. All three of us had decided to accept an honour despite our absolute rejection of our colonial past. We want a clean break from the past. We want all links between the British Honours System and colonialism to be broken because we really value the high level recognition of the social justice work of our organisations and ourselves.

The letter reproduced below was published in the Times on 30th July 2020. We are now inviting anyone who works in the civil society and public sector who has received an honour to add their name to the list. We want to can continue the conversation and ultimately make sure we achieve our goal: a simple and very important switch from Empire to Excellence. 

As Lisa Power said 'if there must be gongs let them be for Excellence not Empire'.  

If you add your name along with the honour you received in the messages section, we will continue to build a list of those who want the change, and then think about what our next steps are. 

Thanks and very best wishes, Simon, Poppy and Polly

To the Letters Editor, The Times

Re: the British Honours System

We are leaders in civil society and the public sector who have been bestowed an honour as part of the British Honours System.

We are deeply grateful for the recognition of our own work and that of the organisations we represent, and the public validation it gives to the struggle for social justice that we and our organisations have been engaged in, often for decades.

We also believe that our struggle for social justice must recognise the need for the United Kingdom to break from its colonial past and strive for a society that makes efforts to include everyone on equal terms at all levels. This means we are taking a long, hard look at our own organisations and what more we can do to create a fair, equitable and anti-racist society.

As those who are privileged to have been honoured, we invite the government – in consultation with Her Majesty the Queen – to commit to a simple, yet extremely important change in title, so that honours are conferred in the name of British Excellence and not of the British Empire.

  1. Lord Victor Abedowale CBE
  2. Dame Elizabeth N Anionwu DBE
  3. Cathy Ashley OBE
  4. Janet Atherton OBE
  5. Carl Austin-Behan OBE DL
  6. Anna Rose Barker MBE
  7. Francine Bates OBE
  8. Jonny Benjamin MBE
  9. Rob Berkeley MBE
  10. Simon Blake OBE
  11. Simon Blanchflower CBE
  12. Christine Burns MBE
  13. Gary Buxton MBE
  14. Yvonne Veronica Coghill CBE
  15. Jonathan Cohen OBE
  16. Rachel Coldicutt OBE
  17. Duncan Craig OBE
  18. Natasha Devon MBE
  19. Catherine Diehl MBE
  20. Ian Duckmanton OBE
  21. Claire Dove CBE 
  22. Jonathan Drew MBE
  23. Matt Downie MBE
  24. Jacqui Dyer OBE
  25. David Evans OBE
  26. David Fielding MBE
  27. Lucy Findlay MBE
  28. Tracy Fishwick OBE
  29. Arvinda Gohil OBE
  30. Bob Green OBE
  31. Suzanne Jacob OBE
  32. Stephen Hale OBE
  33. Vivienne Hayes MBE
  34. Charlotte Hill OBE
  35. Peter Holbrook CBE
  36. Norma Hornby MBE
  37. Poppy Jaman OBE
  38. Davina James-Hannah OBE
  39. Reverend Graham Kirk Spriggs
  40. Paul Martin OBE
  41. John May OBE
  42. Neil McDonald MBE
  43. Catherine McLeod MBE
  44. Ian McPherson OBE
  45. Monty Montcrieff MBE
  46. Polly Neate CBE
  47. Sir Nick Partridge OBE
  48. Debbie Pennington MBE
  49. Lisa Pinney MBE
  50. Lisa Power OBE
  51. Katherine Rake OBE
  52. Susanne Rauprich OBE
  53. Paul Roberts OBE
  54. David Robinson OBE
  55. Lisa Rodrigues CBE
  56. Laura Maria Serrant OBE
  57. Tim Sigworth MBE
  58. Jasvir Singh OBE
  59. Parim Singh MBE
  60. Penelope Thompson CBE
  61. Sue Tibballs OBE
  62. Hugh Thornbery CBE
  63. Cath Tomlin MBE
  64. Rosie Tressler OBE
  65. Miranda Wolpert MBE
  66. Sharon White OBE
  67. Ed Whiting OBE
  68. Steve Wyler OBE


  1. You're absolutely right, recognition not obedience Damian Clancy

  2. Yes, please, count me in too.
    David Evans OBE

  3. Yes from me - Suzanne Jacob OBE

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Rosie Tressler OBE

      (tried to connect to a personal account and failed Simon!)

  5. Do add me ! Charlotte Hill OBE

  6. I have long felt the continued use of "empire" is misplaced & no longer relevant. It MUST be changed.


Post a comment

Popular posts from this blog

Facing up to death and dying

Being 46