‘It has become a little too easy to scoff’

Rhona Ritchie has been honoured by the Queen

Rhona Ritchie has been honoured by the Queen

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the annual outcry over the New Year’s Honours list now seems as much a tradition as the awarding of the gongs themselves.

The main broohaha this year surrounds Posh Spice OBE. The former Spice Girl is the recipient of an OBE - matching the one presented to her husband in 2003 - for services to fashion and charity. She has worked as a UN Ambassador helping to tackle the stigma suffered by people with HIV and Aids. That is enough on its own to make her a more worthy recipient than many celebrities who have been added to the list in previous years seemingly to add some glitz and glamour.

There will always be questions asked, quite reasonably, about the big names who are honoured by the Queen when they receive accolades aplenty from elsehwere.

But it has become a little too easy to scoff at a tradition which remains one of the best ways we have as a country of honouring some of our unsung heroes. Regardless of whether you support the monarchy or not, it would be sad to lose the opportunity to recognise the very real achievements of people like lollipop lady Rhona Ritchie, Botanics artist Jacqui Pestell and MacMillan nurse Fiona Haston.

Of course, as the man himself has said, Andy Murray is a wee bit on the young side to be knighted at the age of 29 - but better to be acknowledged too early than not at all as happened to so many of our sporting heroes of the past.

The truth is that the introduction of sporting and showbiz stars has reignited interest in what had come to be seen as a rather stuffy and out-of-touch tradition. There was a perception that they were awarded on the basis of ‘Buggins turn’ rather than for any outstanding achievement by anyone outside the corridors of power.

What makes them really worthwhile though is the chance to honour the heroes of our communities.