New citizenship awards celebrate 'ordinary people'

Nominations can be submitted either by individuals or organisations and are free of charge

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The Independent Online

A new initiative to recognise exceptional endeavour by ordinary people has been launched with support from i. The British Citizen Awards (BCA), which are open to every person in the UK, aim to celebrate the “local heroes” who, despite making a positive impact on their community, are unlikely to ever be recognised by the traditional honours system.

Mike Faulkner, the Awards' director, devised the idea after his business partner tried to nominate someone for an OBE but found the process to be so convoluted that he eventually gave up.

Mr Faulkner resolved to set up an accessible programme, recognising ordinary people who do extraordinary things for others, which he says will “fill the space below the honours system”.

There are eight categories - business, community, industry, education, arts, healthcare, volunteering and charitable giving, and international. Nominations, which can be submitted either by individuals or organisations, are free of charge.

Mr Faulkner told i: “These awards are a way of recognising people and holding them up as society's role models.”

Duncan Slater, a British Citizen Award ambassador, was severely injured when his vehicle was blown up by an improvised explosive device while on patrol in Afghanistan.

Mr Slater lost both his legs and had 18 operations over two years from “some of the best medical experts in the world”, but said the people who supported them - the nurses, volunteers and cleaning staff - were “the real stars”.

He added: “These guys would never receive recognition - even though they deserve it.”

All nominations will be scrutinised by an independent committee, with their choices passed on to an assessment panel chaired by businessman Sir Paul Judge for final ratification.

The winners, along with their nominators, will be invited to a presentation day, hosted by Baroness Cox, at Westminster Palace in January.

People interested in nominating someone for any category should visit britishcitizenawards.co.uk. The closing date is 31 October.

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