Information Release on The Different Types of UK State & St Helena Government Awards

UK Honours Awards

A UK Honours Award is a State award endorsed by Her Majesty The Queen. 

Honours Awards are used to recognise outstanding and exceptional achievement and service where a person has gone above and beyond what normally would be expected of them. Anyone can nominate someone for an Honour.  However, you cannot nominate yourself for an Honour.  It is essential that nominated persons do not know they are being nominated, otherwise the nomination would be invalidated.

Honours are awarded in any field of activity, including for services to the community and local government, arts and media, science and technology, health and education.  People are honoured for making a prominent and positive impact in their field of work by significantly changing things for the better, whilst at the same time upholding British values.   Extra weight is given to service that is recent and performed on a voluntary basis or in some other selfless way. 

Honours are for acts of gallantry (bravery) or chivalry (good service). They are separate to the awards given to the uniformed services for long service, military campaigns and royal jubilees.  Honours are split into classes known as ‘Orders’ and graded to distinguish different degrees of achievement of service according to various criteria. The UK Honours given on St Helena are usually from The Order of the British Empire. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office publishes the names of those receiving an Honour in the Overseas and International List twice a year, at the start of a New Year and on the date of the Queen’s Birthday.

Within the Order of the British Empire those typically considered are, in order of superiority:

Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)

Awarded for achievement of service in a leading role at a regional level, which results in a highly distinguished and innovative contribution of wide impact.

Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)

Awarded for distinguished service in any field in a regional or country-wide role, with impact of contribution felt by a significant number of people or across a broad geographical area.

Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)

Awarded for achievement or service in and to the community, which is outstanding in its field and has delivered sustained and real impact which stands out as an example to others.

Medallist of the Order of the British Empire, the British Empire Medal (BEM)

For achievement or contribution of a very ‘hands on’ service to the community in a local geographical area. This might take the form of sustained commitment in support of local charitable and/or voluntary activity; or innovative work that has delivered real impact but may also include instances where achievement was made during a relatively short period (three to four years).

Some of the areas in which Honours have been conferred in the past to the people of St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha included outstanding personal service to communities, and exceptional contribution and work in the field of sports, cultural heritage and conservation.

Recipients of CBEs, OBEs and MBEs are invited to attend an Investiture at Buckingham Palace where they will have their award presented to them by Her Majesty The Queen.  Should they not wish to travel to London, they will have their award presented to them on- Island by the Governor on behalf of the Queen. Recipients of BEMs are presented their award by the Governor on-Island.

St Helena Government Awards

In addition to the UK Honours Awards, the St Helena Government (SHG) can confer three awards, which recognise achievements and service to the Island.

These awards are:

The Certificate and Badge of Honour

This award was endorsed by Her Majesty the Queen in 1957 and is awarded for valuable service or meritorious conduct that is of an exceptional nature and benefit to St Helena.  Under the statutory rules governing this award, the Certificate and Badge of Honour is only available to residents of St Helena. This is defined as someone who has St Helena citizenship (i.e. ‘Saint status’) or has been resident on the Island for not less than 10 years.  In the past, people have been granted the Certificate and Badge of Honour in a number of fields, which includes teaching, nursing, safeguarding of children, service to the community, longstanding and loyal service on the RMS St Helena and in some of local government functions.

The Badge of St Helena

This is a new award approved by Executive Council in May 2021, but is not yet ready for issue. This award is of a higher ranking than the Certificate and Badge of Honour and is available to both St Helenians and non-St Helenians. The Badge of Honour will recognise exceptional service provided by individuals or organisations who make significant contribution to St Helena’s development or by supporting and/or enhancing social, cultural, economic, environmental improvement or the understanding of St Helena internationally.  Such contributions or achievements may include, but are not limited to, research, philanthropy, literature, heritage, or promotion and enhancement of St Helena internationally. Nominations for this award, like the UK State awards, are reviewed by the St Helena Honours Committee and passed to the Royal Household for approval.

Freedom of the City of Jamestown

This award is also a new award approved at the same time as the St Helena Badge of Honour and will be ready for use this year.  This award is symbolic in nature and is of high status.  It is the highest level of SHG award that can be conferred upon an individual.  Accordingly, it is expected this award will be issued only occasionally to St Helenians and non-St Helenians whose achievements are significantly admirable and highly worthy of distinction. Those who receive this award will have made an exceptional contribution and delivered work of great impact to St Helena, which merits special recognition and served the best interests of St Helena.

Progress on completion of the Badge of St Helena Award and Freedom of the City of Jamestown Award

SHG is currently working on finalising the production of the medals for the Badge of St Helena.  Discussions with Royal Mint in the UK are taking place regarding the ‘minting’ of the medals during this year.  The certificate for The Freedom of the City of Jamestown is currently in the design stage.  Nominations for the Badge of St Helena and Freedom of the City of Jamestown are reviewed by the St Helena Honours Committee, then passed to Executive Council for approval as a Governor-in-Council decision.

Act of Bravery Award

In addition to the above three SHG awards, which recognise achievements and contributions to the Island, an Act of Bravery Award is awarded separately and on entirely different grounds.

The Act of Bravery Award is presented as a certificate to individuals who have displayed moral courage and bravery by putting their own safety at risk to save other lives or property.  In the past, Acts of Bravery Awards were approved and presented to individuals for helping those in domestic and public building fires, incidents at sea, and cliff rescue operations.

All SHG awards are presented by the Governor on behalf of the government.

Call for Nominations

Nominations are currently being invited for the New Year’s 2023 Honours Awards and the Certificate and Badge of Honour, and Acts of Bravery Award.    If you know someone who you think is worthy of recognition why not put them forward for an award. Nomination forms can be requested from Information & Research Support Officer, Linda Benjamin, on telephone No. 22470 or via email:   

Completed forms should be returned to the Castle in a sealed envelope marked ‘Confidential’ addressed to ‘The Executive Secretary, Honours Committee’ by Tuesday, 19 April 2022.

Governor’s Office, St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
22 March 2022

St Helena Government Communications Hub

Telephone: 22470