The British Honours system is one of the oldest in the world, dating back to medieval times. It is a way for the government to recognise and celebrate outstanding achievements by individuals in various fields. The honours awarded range from MBEs (Member of the Order of the British Empire), OBEs (Officer of the Order of the British Empire), CBEs (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) to knighthoods and damehoods.
Anybody can write a nomination form for someone to receive an honour, and the government provides advice on how to write the application on the Honours website. However, writing a nomination for an unworthy candidate won’t work, no matter how well-written the application is.
The first thing to consider when writing a nomination form is whether the nominee deserves an honour. Honours are reserved for individuals who have changed things, especially by solid, practical achievement or whose work has brought distinction to British life or enhanced the UK’s reputation in their area or activity. If you think your nominee demonstrates one or both of these accomplishments and that their contribution stands out from other people’s, please consider nominating them for an honour.
Here are some additional tips on how to write an effective nomination form, based on our experience of working with a wide variety of clients:
1. Read the application form before you start your research: This seems obvious, but it’s very important to understand what the nominating committee is looking for. Here at Bayleaf, we plan out our MBE nominations and King’s Honours nomination before starting any research or reaching out to people.
2. Focus on Difference: What makes the nominee different from other people operating in the same field? What differences has the nominee made to their community? By clearly highlighting those differences, you will show the nomination committee why your candidate is worthy.
3. Choose Supporters Carefully: When we write an Honours Nomination, we break down the story into distinct pieces and find supporters that can write from personal experience about each part. For example, each business success, each charity effort, each community action – find a supporter who has seen the benefit and the work and can speak personally about it.
4. Don’t Use Template Letters: If a chosen supporter says “I’d love to help, but I don’t know what to write, write something for me and I will sign it” – then find a different supporter. It’s not possible to capture the personal enthusiasm and necessary support when writing on behalf of somebody else. In short, if somebody can’t be bothered to write a short, personal letter, you don’t need them in your corner.
5. Don’t Overplay Business Success: In general, an application will not receive much credit for elements that have already benefited the nominee. More bluntly – something which has brought personal wealth or stature probably won’t attract an Honour. Focus on what the nominee has done with that profile and how they have given back.
6. Be Specific: Generalisms and platitudes don’t win Honours. Give numbers, amounts, hours spent, people helped.
7. Enlist Help: You probably don’t know everything about your nominee (unless you are behind your own nomination). If you are a work colleague, enlist the help of a family member who may know about private charity work. If you are a partner or family member, talk to business colleagues who may know something that you don’t. Be thorough.
8. Take your Time: It will probably take two years for the Government to evaluate your nomination. Spending a couple of extra weeks to really check the application is time well spent.
9. Don’t Forget the Background Checks: Several agencies are involved in the evaluation to check that nobody “unsuitable” is awarded an Honour. The Police, the Immigration Services and HMRC etc all have the power to comment on or veto a nomination. If you are aware of an issue in the past, it probably will be noted and could stop an otherwise successful nomination
10. Check eligibility: Ensure that the nominee is eligible for the award you are nominating them for. For example, non-UK citizens can receive honorary awards, but they cannot be awarded certain titles such as knighthoods or damehoods.
11. Be professional: While it’s important to show the nominee’s personality and achievements, it’s also important to maintain a professional tone throughout the nomination. Use proper grammar and punctuation, and avoid using overly informal language or slang.
12. Highlight the impact: Show the impact that the nominee has had on their community or field. Provide examples of how their work has made a difference and the positive impact it has had.
13. Provide supporting evidence: Provide supporting evidence, such as letters of recommendation, news articles, or awards that the nominee has received.
14. Proofread: Ensure that the nomination is free from errors and typos. Have someone else proofread it as well to catch any mistakes that may have been missed.
In conclusion, writing an MBE nomination form or any other nomination for an honour is not an easy task. It requires careful thought, planning, and attention to detail. The best nominations are those that clearly show why the nominee deserves the honour and highlight the impact they have had on their community or field. By following these tips and guidelines, you can increase the chances of a successful nomination and give recognition to those who have truly made a difference.
Of course, we have all these best practices and more embedded in our business and can help you maximise the chances of success with your MBE or other Honours Nomination.
If you have any questions or need advice, drop a comment below, or contact us here.