Belfast Telegraph

New Year's Honours list: System of awards that was born in Great War

By Chris Kilpatrick

Maurice Mills was one of more than 80 people in Northern Ireland who received awards in the Queen's New Year Honours list for 2015.

The awards are given in recognition of a wide range of achievements in many areas of public life, including sport, education, business, local government, the justice system, community services and charity fundraising.

The UK Honours system is overseen by the Cabinet Office Honours and Appointments Secretariat.

The list consists of knights and dames, appointments of the Order of the British Empire, and gallantry awards to servicemen and women, and civilians.

Nominations are submitted by Government departments or members of the public.

They are divided into subject areas and assessed by committees made up of independent experts and senior civil servants.

Their assessments are then passed to a centralised selection committee which draws up the list.

It is passed to the Queen through the Prime Minister.

The Queen informally approves the list and letters are sent to nominees.

If the honour is accepted, the list is formally approved.

St James's Palace then arranges invites for recipients to be presented with their medal by the Queen or another member of the royal family.

Orders of the British Empire, including the OBE, CBE and MBE, were created by King George V during World War I to reward services to the war effort by civilians at home and servicemen in support positions.

The award of MBE can be given for achievement or service in the community.

The highest honour this year was given to Dame Mary Peters, Northern Ireland's only individual summer Olympics gold medallist, who was made a Companion of Honour for services to sport and to the community.

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