Medals for sport, health and community heroes

What an honour! Hamilton, Miller and Khalil were three of 1,239 celebrated

Is it a good idea to celebrate individuals? This year’s New Year’s Honours list is filled with famous faces and everyday heroes. Some argue we should honour whole groups of people instead.

What’s happening

At the end of last year, a special group began collecting names of thousands of people from around the UK. On it were athletes, actors, scientists, charity workers and many others.

Eventually, the group made a decision. The list was ready, and 1,239 people were ready to be honoured by the Queen.

Find out more

The New Year’s Honours list highlights the achievements made by people across the UK. There are six different kinds of honour awarded twice a year.

Lewis Hamilton has been awarded one of the highest honours, a knighthood. He won his seventh Formula One last year. This makes him the joint most successful racing driver in history.

Hundreds of key workers have also won medals. One is Jolene Miller. Last year, she worked in two key jobs at the same time – one as a paramedic, the other as a train driver.

The youngest person on this year’s list is 20-year-old Samah Khalil. She is a youth mayor and campaigns for young people. Last year, she spoke about mental health during the lockdowns.

Is it always a good idea to celebrate individuals?

Some say…

Not always. There is no doubt that these three have done amazing things. But thousands more have helped others and made a difference this year. Everyone who won an award had friends and teams supporting them. There should not be medals for individuals. Instead, we should have a chance to celebrate everyone who helped them succeed.

Others think…

Yes! It is still important to recognise when one person has done something extraordinary. Lewis Hamilton is one of the UK’s most successful athletes in history. Jolene Miller gave up her time to help during the pandemic. Samah Khalil has spoken out for young people and supported them during lockdown. Of course these heroes must be celebrated!

You Decide

  1. If you could choose someone you know to win an honour, who would it be and why?


  1. Imagine you have a chance to do a video call with Lewis Hamilton. Come up with three questions to ask him.

Some People Say...

“Hard times don’t create heroes. It is during the hard times when the ‘hero’ within us is revealed.”

Bob Riley, US politician

What do you think?

Word Watch

Special group
This is called the honours committee. They decide people who they think should receive honours. These recommendations go to the Prime Minister, then to the Queen.
Sometimes, the Queen actually awards the honour. On some occasions, it is another member of the royal family.
The highest of these is the Companion of Honour. It is limited to 65 people. Elton John is the most recent person to receive it.
The female version of this honour is a Dame.
The only other racing driver to win seven titles is Michael Schumacher.
Each honour is marked with a medal. In the past, if you were given one, a kind of bell called a gong would be rung as you received it. As a result, people sometimes call honours “gongs” for short.
A person who is trained to look after a patient before or during a trip to a hospital. Paramedics drive ambulances and are usually the first people on the scene after an accident.
Youth mayor
A mayor is somebody who is elected – or chosen – by people to run a local town or area. A youth mayor can be as young as 11 years old. They are chosen by other young people to represent them in their town or city.
Mental health
For many people, the changes during lockdown were difficult to deal with. Samah made sure she was available for anyone who wanted to talk about their problems.


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