Ex-PM Gordon Brown, The Crown star Imelda Staunton & ex-subpostmaster Alan Bates in King's Birthday Honours

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The King’s Birthday Honours list is set to celebrate notable figure such as former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, The Crown actress Imelda Staunton, writer Armando Iannucci, and ex-footballer Ally McCoist as well as former subpostmaster Alan Bates.

Mr Brown has been awarded the prestigious Companion of Honour for his public and charitable services both in the UK and abroad. This distinguished honour is limited to only 65 people at any time and highlights significant contributions to the arts, science, medicine, or government.

He told the PA news agency: “I feel slightly embarrassed as the opportunity to serve is an honour in itself and my preference has always been to recognise all those brilliant, unsung, local heroes who quietly and selflessly give their time to contribute to the vitality of our communities.

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“I want to thank those who put my name forward and thank my family and all who have worked with me during the last 50 years in public life, to whom I owe everything.”

The Crown actress Dame Imelda, who is known for her role as Queen Elizabeth the II in the Netflix series, said she was “thrilled” to be made a dame for her services to drama and charity. She said: “I feel genuinely humbled to be recognised on the same level as the amazing actresses, all the great dames, who have led the way for so many of us.”

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been made a Companion of Honour for public and charitable services in the UK and abroad.Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been made a Companion of Honour for public and charitable services in the UK and abroad.
Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has been made a Companion of Honour for public and charitable services in the UK and abroad. | Getty Images

Armando Iannucci, creator of The Thick Of It, received a CBE for his contributions to film and television. Iannucci voiced his pride in working within the British television and film industry and his dedication to defending public service television from threats to its independence and funding.

Ally McCoist, former Rangers and Scotland footballer, was honoured with an OBE for his services to association football and broadcasting. Other sports figures recognised include Stephen Gallacher and Sandy Lyle, both receiving MBEs for their contributions to golf.

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In academia, Professor Sir Niall Ferguson was knighted for his work as a historian. Known for his 2003 series "Empire: How Britain Made The Modern World," Ferguson acknowledged the support of his family and educators, stating their influence as integral to his achievements.

The Crown actress Dame Imelda, who is known for her role as Queen Elizabeth the II in the Netflix series, said she was “thrilled” to be made a dame for her services to drama and charity. The Crown actress Dame Imelda, who is known for her role as Queen Elizabeth the II in the Netflix series, said she was “thrilled” to be made a dame for her services to drama and charity.
The Crown actress Dame Imelda, who is known for her role as Queen Elizabeth the II in the Netflix series, said she was “thrilled” to be made a dame for her services to drama and charity. | Mike Marsland/WireImage

Professor Moira Whyte, the Sir John Crofton Professor of Respiratory Medicine at the University of Edinburgh, was made a Dame for her services to medical research.

The arts sector also saw significant recognition with Jane Spiers, chair of the National Theatre of Scotland, being made an OBE for her extensive career in the arts. In a career in the arts spanning more than 40 years, she has been a producer, programmer, festival director, event manager and cultural policy adviser.

She said: “I’m still pinching myself. I feel so fortunate to have spent a lifetime working in the arts and now to be given an honour for doing something I love. I couldn’t accept it without acknowledging all the people along the way, back and front of house, who’ve played a part in my life, encouraged me, believed in me, given me chances.”

Former subpostmaster Alan Bates the founder of Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance who was played by Toby Jones in an ITV drama about the scandal, said he was “honoured” by his knighthood.Former subpostmaster Alan Bates the founder of Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance who was played by Toby Jones in an ITV drama about the scandal, said he was “honoured” by his knighthood.
Former subpostmaster Alan Bates the founder of Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance who was played by Toby Jones in an ITV drama about the scandal, said he was “honoured” by his knighthood. | Getty Images

Other prominent figures recognised include:

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  • Bates, honoured with a knighthood for his campaigning work on the Post Office Horizon scandal.
  • Tracey Emin, artist known for her autobiographical artwork, made a Dame.
  • Cyclist Mark Cavendish, knighted for his contributions to cycling.
  • Susie Dent, Simon Le Bon, and Amy Dowden, honoured with MBEs for their contributions to showbiz and charity.

Sir Alan, the founder of Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance who was played by Toby Jones in an ITV drama about the scandal, said he was “honoured” by his knighthood.

The former subpostmaster, who previously rejected an OBE honour, told the PA news agency: “The time I was asked about the OBE… I felt it would have been quite offensive to many of the group if I’d accepted it. But I do know that I’ve had hundreds of emails and letters of support over the years and a lot of people do seem to think that I should receive some sort of recognition for the work that I’ve done for them or on their behalf.

“I know I’m the recipient of it and all the rest of it, but it’s on behalf of the group as well – and recognition of the horrendous things that have happened to them and the story’s not over yet.” Sir Alan said many people were “still suffering” and the campaigners would go back to the courts if necessary, adding “if we need to raise the funding for doing such a thing, I’m sure the nation will support us”.

The youngest recipient in the list was 20-year-old Shamza Butt who received a British Empire Medal for her work at the voluntary development programme National Citizen Service on behalf of young people. Harold Jones was the oldest recipient, who at 100 years old received a British Empire Medal for his fundraising for motor neurone disease charities in Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands.

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Award organisers said 64% of recipients were people who showed “outstanding work” in their communities either in a voluntary or paid capacity, adding that 66% of recipients lived outside London and the South East. Of the 1,077 people honoured in the 2024 list, 509 were women – representing 48% of the total – and 10% of all successful candidates were from an ethnic minority background.

At CBE level and above, 40% of recipients were women.

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