THN… (The Honours Network)

THN… (The Honours Network)

Here’s an idea which I’ve been pondering over the past ten years. I return to it from time to time, more convinced than ever that it remains a huge opportunity to unlock social impact.

Before I begin, I had better put on record my belief that it would be an entirely positive idea to change the name of The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire to The Order of British Excellence.

Now I’ve got that (provocative) idea out of the way, here’s the main point…

It seems strange to me that there isn’t (yet) an Honours Network in the UK.

Put simply, I see an opportunity to connect the recipients of Honours, across the UK (at all levels, including CBE, OBE, MBE), for the ongoing benefit of the country.

Firstly, I think that by making these connections, the UK could become a better place. Imagine those new conversations, opportunities and ideas. People from across industries and backgrounds, all of whom have been recognised for making a difference. 

My hunch is that you’d do this locally, by town or by region. I live in South Oxfordshire, so that would be my local network. Through it, I would be able to meet and connect with a wide range of socially motivated people.

What is the point?
For some, it would be a chance to meet new people, however the aim is higher than that. This would be a chance to solve problems together, to share ideas, to rally behind causes. 

This is a big one. My guess is that nationally, you’d need a co-ordinator, however this network would thrive if it was devolved. A regional co-ordinator (a volunteer) would help to convene events, perhaps maintain a noticeboard of local opportunities. 

In practice, you could be invited to join after your Honour had been announced. The messaging would be completely un self-congratulatory or smug. The chance to join a wider group across the UK. To continue to serve. As a member, you would be invited to local or national gatherings, and invited to share things happening, which could be shared with the wider network. I believe that a good proportion of recipients would accept such an invitation. 

I shared the idea with a number of trusted colleagues (all of whom have received honours). Here are few reactions;

“This is a brilliant idea. The diversity of this could be amazing.”

“It’s crazy that we get given these things and meet other amazing people then… that’s it. No more follow up.”

“Not sure why it doesn’t exist already and was one of the disappointments when we got ours that there was no more to it.”

We have a system which, like it or not, goes about highlighting people who make a difference in their communities. Not to connect these people with each other seems like a waste. So I’m proposing THN (“then”), The Honours Network. You may think of it as a club or a group. Joining would be optional. Of course there would be personal benefits (hopefully enjoyment) in joining, however the overall idea is that Britain will become an even better place if we can connect people from all walks of life, who have already proved, in some way, that they want to make a difference. 


1) What do you think? 

2) Who might be up for helping to get this going?

3) Who would make a brilliant partner organisation?

4) Do you know anyone in a position of influence who might look favourably upon this and champion its development.

Let me know!

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