Community volunteering medal reintroduced

The British Empire Medal (BEM), awarded as part of the Queen"s Honours system to British citizens making a difference in their communities until 1992, will be reintroduced in the Diamond Jubilee Honours list in June 2012.

Associated with the Order of the British Empire (OBE), the BEM was established in the same year, 1917. It was originally split into two medals, one for exceptional civil service and one for military gallantry, and was awarded to those who did not qualify to be made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE).

The medal will now be awarded to volunteers, with its reintroduction seen by Downing Street as a way to drive community volunteering, a key component of the government's Big Society agenda. It is expected there will be around 270 to 300 medals awarded in each Honours round, with those awarded attending the Royal Garden Party. BEM recipients will also be entitled to use the post-nominal letters.

While the medal was taken out of service in the UK, other Commonwealth realms including the Bahamas and Cook Islands continued to issue the award.