British Empire Medal recipients among guests at the Coronation

Published 17 April 2023

Community volunteers and key workers will be part of the 2,000-strong congregation at Westminster Abbey on 6 May

A British Empire Medal recipient wearing a sari proudly holds up her medal


British Empire Medals are awarded for achievement or contribution of very ‘hands-on’ service to the community in a local geographic area. 

This might take the form of sustained commitment in support of very local charitable or voluntary activity, or innovative work that has delivered real impact over a shorter period of time. 

Here are just some of the inspiring guests who will be attending the Coronation on 6 May. 

Des Lally and family

Des Lally

Inspired by his parents, Des set out to raise money for charity by climbing the highest peak in Southern Britain – Pen-Y-Fan – every day for one year. Des took on the challenge of 365 hikes over 365 days in aid of Cancer Research and Help for Heroes – both charities close to Des’ heart. Put to the test by extreme weather conditions including ‘The Beast from the East’ and at the time, the hottest summer on record for 40 years, Des raised approximately £60,000 in 2019 when completing this challenge. 

I chose these two charities because my dad was in the Forces for 26 years and both my Mum and Dad have been affected by cancer. Both charities are very meaningful to me.

Des said: “I took on this challenge as I wanted to do something a bit different and unusual that would raise the profile of these charities. The whole community got behind it, shared my story and donated to charity. It’ very humbling to be recognised for my efforts but this is all about the charities and the people and families that these charities represent.”

Dr Hareen De Silva

Dr Hareen De Silva

Dr Hareen De Silva received a British Empire Medal for services to general practice during COVID-19. Throughout the pandemic, he worked in various settings including NHS Nightingale, the Test and Trace service, and GP clinics in London. 

“I am looking forward to being present in a historic event for this country”, he says. “To be witness to the ceremony itself and being able to tell my family and future generations what I have witnessed.”

I feel immense pride in being invited and a valued member of society.

“I am feeling privileged to be a part of this momentous occasion, especially being a Sri Lankan immigrant, being raised in one of the poorest areas of London and then receiving a British Empire Medal from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.”

Lauren Doherty and family

Lauren Doherty

In August 2008, Lauren Doherty was on a night out with friends. Walking home at 4.30am, she was distracted and crossed the road at the wrong time. Lauren was hit by a van and left paralysed.

In 2016 she established the charity Road Safety Talks and began visiting local colleges, groups and organisations to educate and raise awareness of the consequences that not taking care on the road can have. Lauren says: “It was my vision to share my story with others in the hope it would prevent anyone else experiencing what I, and my family, had been through.”

To date, Lauren has spoken to over 10,000 individuals.

Lauren says: “I was overwhelmed at being recognised in The Queen’s Birthday Honours last year – to have now been invited to The King’s Coronation, it means equally as much to me.”

I feel extremely humbled and honoured to have been invited to be part of this once in a lifetime, historical event.

Humayun Islam

Humayun Islam

Humayun Islam received a British Empire Medal for exceptional service to his community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. He led on a food provision project which supported vulnerable families and adults in Bradford. 

He also promotes inclusion and participation in football in Bradford.

Looking ahead to the Coronation, Humayun says: “It’s a truly historic international event and I am looking forward to be part of the historic event on the day.” 

I am feeling excited, and feel proud to be part of this amazing day. I feel like it’s a dream opportunity to celebrate The King’s and Her Majesty The Queen Consort’s Coronation.

Bansari Ruparelia

Bansari Ruparelia

Bansari Ruparelia’s British Empire Medal was awarded in recognition of the services she has carried out for the community.

Working on a volunteer basis, she provides support and care to people experiencing social isolation, an issue which she believes has become more widely acknowledged and recognised in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Bansari says: “It is an honour to be invited to attend such a historical and prestigious event and to be able to witness The King’s Coronation in person.”

This is not something I would ever have thought I would get to experience, and I am excited to see the ceremony carried out.

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