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Covid-19 workers to be recognised in honours list, says Johnson

Publication of the Queen’s Birthday Honours will be moved to allow those who have played a leading role fighting the virus to be nominated.

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Doctors, nurses and NHS staff (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Doctors, nurses and NHS staff (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Doctors, nurses and NHS staff (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Boris Johnson has said those involved in the Covid-19 effort are to be recognised by the Queen in the next round of honours.

The Prime Minister said the publication of the Queen’s Birthday Honours list will be moved from June to the autumn so it can reflect the work of people battling coronavirus on different fronts.

Captain Sir Tom Moore, who captured the imagination of the nation by raising almost £33 million for the NHS by walking laps of his garden, has already been named as the recipient of a knighthood.

In a written statement to the House of Commons, the Prime Minister said: “There is, understandably, huge appetite across the country to say thank you to all those on the front line, within our communities and in our public services, who are supporting the nation through these unprecedented times.

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Boris Johnson (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Boris Johnson (Jonathan Brady/PA)

PA

Boris Johnson (Jonathan Brady/PA)

“The honours system recognises exceptional contributions made across every part of the UK and will play a key role in demonstrating the nation’s gratitude to all those involved in the response.

“In this context, the Queen has graciously agreed that the Birthday Honours list, due to be published in June, should be postponed until the autumn.

“This step will allow us to ensure that the list, agreed before this public health emergency developed, reflects the Covid-19 effort, and comes at a time when we can properly celebrate the achievements of all those included.”

Honours recipients can sometimes take months or even years to be available to collect their awards but it is rare for the list – published twice a year in June and the new year – to be postponed.

Sir Tom said he was “overawed” to learn that he will be knighted for what started out as a simple way to keep active and raise an initial target of £1,000 for the NHS, before his 100th birthday on April 30.

Recipients receive their honours during investiture ceremonies at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle or the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh.

Buckingham Palace has already announced that investitures planned for June have been postponed but a spokesman said talks would be held with Second World War veteran Sir Tom and his family about how he will receive his knighthood.

A palace spokesman said: “Discussions will take place with Sir Tom and his family about the arrangements.”

His knighthood comes weeks after the 100-year-old was made an honorary colonel to mark his centenary and fundraising efforts.

The Prime Minister said in his statement: “Colonel Tom Moore, recently celebrating his 100th birthday, has become synonymous with the spirit of the current collective national effort.

“I have, exceptionally, recommended to the Queen that he be awarded a knighthood, in recognition of his extraordinary fundraising achievements, and as a signal of the kind of contributions we will want to mark in the months to come.”

Mr Johnson also called on the public to put forward the names of inspiring individuals involved in all aspects of the coronavirus outbreak.

He said: “We anticipate that Covid-19 recognition will happen across future honours lists, reflecting the ongoing work being done by so many.”

PA