Charity leaders want ‘Empire’ replaced with ‘Excellence’ in honours system

A raft of charity leaders, who have received honours, have written an open letter calling for reform of the awards to remove the term ‘British Empire’.

Charity leaders, including Turning Point chief executive Lord Olufemi Abedowale CBE, have published the letter in the Times calling for the awards' Empire references to be replaced with “Excellence”.

The letter states: “We are deeply grateful of the recognition of our work and that of the organisations we represent and the public validation it gives to the struggle for social justice that we and our organisations have been engaged in, often for decades.

“We believe that our struggle for social justice must recognise the need for the UK to break from its colonial past and strive for a society that makes efforts to include everyone on equal terms at all levels.

“This means we are taking a long, hard look at our own organisations and what more we can do to create a fair, equitable and antiracist society.

“As those who are privelged to have been honoured we invite the government in consultation with the Queen to agree on a simple, yet extremely important change in title, so that honours are conferred in the name of British Excellence and not of the British Empire”.

The letter is also signed by mental health and body image campaigner Natasha Devon, who said : “Several of us who have been lucky enough to receive honours from the Queen have written an open letter asking for ‘British Empire’ to be changed to ‘British Excellence’, acknowledging the damage done & atrocities committed by the Empire historically.”

Others to sign the letter include Shelter chief executive Polly Neate CBE and Simon Blake OBE, chief executive of Mental Health First Aid.

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