Kenneth Branagh and Kate Winslet get royal honours from Queen ElizabethJun 16, 2:14 pm
London, June 16 (ANI): Kenneth Branagh received a knighthood and Kate Winslet received a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, or CBE, in the queen's Birthday Honours List, that was published on Saturday. David Cameron 's "big society" gong, the anachronistically named British Empire Medal, made its first appearance in twenty years in the Queen's birthday honours, rewarding "hands-on" service to local communities.Apart from Branagh and Winslet, 293 BEMs, known as the "working-class gong", scrapped by John Major in 1991 in his efforts to make the honours system "classless", were also awarded.The 51-year-old Branagh, said of his knighthood for services to drama and the community in Northern Ireland that he was "humble, elated and incredibly lucky.""When I was a kid I dreamed of pulling on a shirt for the Northern Ireland football team. I could only imagine how proud you might feel. Today it feels like they just gave me the shirt, and my heart's fit to burst," the Guardian quoted the actor as saying.The 36-year-old Winslet, said that she was "surprised and honoured" at her CBE for drama, which made her "very proud to be a Brit."Revived by Cameron to encourage the "big society" and reward volunteering, BEM recipients included waitress Patricia Carter, for services to the hospitality industry, apiarist Geoffrey Hopkinson, for services to beekeeping, and many others who were involved with local community work, charities, and sports.Sir Bob Kerslake, head of the civil service who chairs the main honours committee, said that the re-introduction of the BEM for the Diamond Jubilee extended the reach of the honours system."One of the clear steers from the prime minister has been his desire to reflect in the honours system commitments around the 'big society'," he said. The medals are presented locally by lords lieutenant.Following the Buckingham Palace Diamond Jubilee concert, tabloid predictions of an honour for 41-year-old Gary Barlow, were realised. 'The Take That singer' was "absolutely thrilled" at his OBE, awarded for services to the entertainment industry and to the charity.The 59-year-old actor Jenny Agutter, of 'The Railway Children' fame who recently starred in the BBC1 drama 'Call the Midwife', was "thrilled and touched" by her OBE for charitable services.Knighthoods also went to Richard Stilgoe, the songwriter who was "astonished and thrilled", and Charles Dunstone, founder of Carphone Warehouse, both recognised for philanthropy.Tessa Jowell, the former culture secretary, was made a dame for service in support of the Olympics.A total of 1,201 people were recommended to the Queen for an award, with 1,064 candidates selected at BEM, MBE and OBE level, while 72 percent of recipients were involved in charitable or voluntary work in their local community. (ANI)
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