Winning Awards with Donna O'Toole

Ep 8: How to make a Queen's honours nomination for a Covid-19 Hero or anyone who has inspired, influenced or improved life for others - with DONNA O'TOOLE.

October 14, 2020 Donna O'Toole
Winning Awards with Donna O'Toole
Ep 8: How to make a Queen's honours nomination for a Covid-19 Hero or anyone who has inspired, influenced or improved life for others - with DONNA O'TOOLE.
Show Notes Transcript

This year The Queen’s Birthday honours list was delayed to include a special list for ‘COVID Heroes’ - the volunteers, key workers and generally amazing and selfless people who had done something to help others or make a positive impact during the pandemic. 

And how lovely was it to see that good news and so many wonderful people recognised! Nearly 1500 individuals were given an award ranging from BEM to MBE, OBE, CBE or even a knight or damehood, around half of those were for their work during the pandemic. 

This is fabulous because the whole point of recognition at this level is to create a virtuous circle, not just to give them a pat on the back and a nice legacy to share with their family.

An honour is given to recognise someone’s EXTRAORDINARY impact and to motivate them to keep that impact going. It’s also there to hold them up as a role model and encourage others to follow their example. 

If you want to nominate someone for an honour, you can find out all the information you need on the Government website here.

Donna O'Toole is CEO of August, she has had the pleasure of supporting entrepreneurs, business leaders and teams to win the most prestigious awards in the world. Seeing first-hand how receiving awards and recognition has motivated teams, solved problems, supercharged brands and raised their profiles, helping businesses to grow and do even more good things for their employees, their industry and their community.

Donna O'Toole:

Hi, I'm Donna O'Toole. And you're listening to my exclusive winning awards podcast. Over the years, I've had the pleasure of supporting entrepreneurs, business leaders and teams to win the most prestigious awards in the world. I've seen firsthand how receiving awards and recognition has motivated teams, solved problems, supercharged brands and raised profiles, helping businesses to grow and do even more good things for their employees, their industry and their community. In this podcast, I'll be sharing valuable awards insights, tips, and inspirational stories to make sure that you get the recognition that you deserve, so that you can go on and achieve your dreams. So what are you waiting for, it's time to start winning. So I just wanted to make a very quick recording for this podcast today, on the honour system, it's something that comes up regularly in the awards environments, but also in the media. And it's something that's often debated about whether it's fair, how it works, who can apply, etc, etc. So I thought, I'm just going to do a really quick run through on how that works, especially because this year, we've had a really exciting new list, which has been announced, which has actually been for the kind of COVID heroes, if we can call them that. And the key workers, the volunteers, the people who've really gone out of their way to do something and make a really positive impact during the pandemic. So I'm often asked questions about how the honour system works, who can be nominated, and how exactly you go about doing that. So I wanted to give you some tips now, because I think COVID heroes in particular will still be recognised going forward. And it's important that you, obviously, if you know, anyone who's been doing great work and really deserves that recognition, it's important to put them forward and know how to do that. But there's also a lot of other reasons to nominate people and put them forward for honours and recognition too. So I think the main point I want to make initially is that the honour system is there to recognise people who aren't just doing their standard job, they are going above and beyond and they're doing something that gives back to the community in some way or helps others in some way. Now that help and that giving back it can be something that's voluntary, it can be charitable, it can be community based, but it can also be industry based. So it could be, you know, something that's inspirational within your particular field or your industry that's been influential on your field, it could be something that is entrepreneurial, that is innovative, that's outstanding. The reason honours are there are to recognise and reward people for the incredible things they're doing. But also to create this virtuous circle of success. So ultimately, recognition helps people to drive forward. And if someone's doing something great out there in the world, and let's say they're helping their community, they're a volunteer, and they're giving out food parcels or something like that. And we don't recognise them, we ignore them. And actually, you know, their, their local community knows what they're doing, but it's not known further afield, then two things happen. One is that they could lose a bit of enthusiasm over time. And they're not doing it for the recognition. But the recognition could help them to stay motivated, especially when times are really, really tough. It also holds them up as a role model to other people to say, hey, look, look what these guys are doing, look what this person is doing that makes a difference in the world, could you be doing something like that? Is there something else that we could all be doing to give back and to support other people. So genuinely, that's what the honour system is, is originally there for it's to celebrate the success of individuals who are going above and beyond in some way, and help them to give back even more and to encourage others to want to do the same. Now, obviously, whenever an awards list comes out, the media will focus on the celebrities, of course they will. They're the people that sell the newspapers and get on the TV, you know, that's the nature of the beast. And that's the nature of media. If you actually look at the statistics and the details of honours, nominations, and the awards that are given out every year, you will see that the celebrities are the minority. Okay, they're not who the newspapers focus on because they don't sell as many papers at the end of the day. Now, celebrities in their own right can also deserve honours. Just because they're celebrities, it doesn't necessarily mean they don't deserve it. And it's very easy to throw your arms in the air and go oh, it's just celebrities that get honours every year. It's not true. So this year, the birthday the Queen's Birthday Honours list has just come out. There's almost 1500 people on that list, half of whom are being celebrated for their work in the community. And that's a lot of people that the amount of actual celebs on there is probably a couple of hundred. And they will be put forward for their contribution to the arts, to charity that often goes under the radar and it's not what they're known for. And sort of all sorts of things. You also have business people on their leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, people who have been influential in their industry in some way. So they're giving back in a different way. Okay. But I would say that probably 99% of the time, they're also giving back in a way that is either charitable or voluntary or supportive in some way. This year, there's been over 1000 Awards given to people who've volunteered in their communities. And there's 49% of the awards given have been this is just in the Birthday Honours list, this is not the New Years Honours list, which will come out later in the year. As it was at the beginning. And 49% of the total are women, which fluctuates around the 50% mark. I will say though, it's very easy, again, to say oh, there's not enough women in the list, there's not enough diversity in the list. That's because they're not getting nominated. So speaking as someone who works in the awards industry, I can tell you that probably 80% of the people we work with, will be men or nominating men. Now, that's not because someone's making the choice to not nominate a woman, that's just for some reason, perhaps women find it harder to make nominations, I'm talking about any awards now, not necessarily honours, but and women don't get recognised as much. You know, and that's a whole other topic, that's a whole other thing I'm not going to go into now. And so and more and more every year are being recognised from dif-different ethnic backgrounds, etc, as it should be. And this should be the raised up. But my message here, I guess, is if you don't nominate someone for an award, so whether that's an honour or whether that's a Business Award, or whatever that award is, they're not going to get it. So there's no point moaning about the ones that that haven't got it unless you're going to do something about it, okay? Honours, don't drop from the sky, the Queen doesn't know what everybody in the country is doing. And neither do the government, the only way they will know is if you tell them and so they've made it a really accessible process for you to be able to make a nomination. But maybe they don't have a huge amount of PR around it. And therefore you might not know how to do it, okay. And that's pretty much the same for most government led things. So I'm going to tell you now how you can do that. So that you know, you can go nominate someone who you think's doing something different, and you think's doing something above and beyond helping other people less fortunate or inspiring or influencing the industry, their community or anyone around them, okay. So if you go to the government website, so if you is, you can make a nomination there, they tell you exactly how to do it. What you will need to do before you make a nomination is you need to think about what impact that person's had. And I would so I suggest you make some notes beforehand. So who exactly have they helped? How long have they helped them for or inspired or influenced, etc? If it's an industry based honour or if its community, then who have they helped in the community? How far has their impact stretch? So have they, you know, what have they done? Have they saved lives? Have they helped people less fortunate in some way? You know, what have they actually done? So write down a list of what they've done, and the impact of it if you can find out numbers that will really help you. So you know, how many people have they helped? And is it a long term impact that it's going to have? What type of impact are they actually having on people? Can you find some evidence of that as well? So have you got perhaps thank you letters? Or is there some press about what they've done? Is there Is there some photographs that show them doing what they're doing? And can you get some other people to back up what you're saying, and substantiate what you're saying by supporting your nomination with a letter themselves. So what that means is they would need to write independently, and they need to have experience of the individual themselves. And they need to talk from their own personal experiences that individual and what they've done, what they've achieved, and why they really think that they would be deserving of an honour. A question I often get asked is will it make a difference who nominates the person? No, it doesn't make a difference who nominates the person. It could be your granny it could be your brother, sister, it could be your colleague, it could be your boss, it could be an employee, it could be anybody, because the honours are being decided, based on the merit of the achievement of the nominee, not on anybody else. No one has influence over the government or over the Queen as to who is going to get these honours. It's, it's a fair process if you put the nomination in, and you make sure that you've included everything that they ask for. So the government website gives you all the information that you need to know on there. So that you can get on and get this written and hopefully get some recognition for the people that you know are giving back and you know, doing great things in life and making a difference for other people. I should also say, as well, that if you know, people who are doing something on a voluntary basis, and they're part of a voluntary Group, you could also nominate them as a group for the Queen's award for voluntary service. That's another wonderful award recognising brilliant people who are giving back to society, you know, through their own voluntary time. So do have a look at that while you're on the government website as well and think about it. But honestly, if you follow the process of the website, you will be able to make that nomination and you will be able to give a chance to somebody that you know is giving back and get them the recognition that they deserve. So that they have that amazing drive to keep going and we say thank you to them for doing all that they've done. Okay. And I actively encourage you to do that there is absolutely no cost to you to do that through the government process, and you've got nothing to lose. So go for it. Thanks very much. Thank you for listening to this episode of my winning awards podcast. If you enjoyed it or found it helpful, please share it on Twitter and LinkedIn. And if you have any questions, please head over to, where you can find out more about winning awards and contact me. On the website, you can also take our free awards test, which will identify your awards strength and tell you how likely you are to win. I really hope you've been able to take away some ideas today so that you can go ahead and win awards have an even bigger impact on the world and achieve your dreams.