Girls playing football

Football and Netball stars awarded New Year Honours


Women in Sport is thrilled to see some prominent figures, including Mary Earps MBE, Millie Bright OBE and Helen Housby MBE, recognised in the King’s New Year Honours list 2024.

2023 has been an exceptional year for female athletes and teams.  From the history-making performances of the Lionesses and Vitality Roses in their respective World Cups, to remarkable achievements in cricket, golf and athletics which have continued to propel women’s sport forward. Record attendances and viewing figures have demonstrated that people love to watch great women’s sport and more brands are recognising the opportunities that women’s sport presents.


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The increased visibility and profile on free-to-air TV and in the press is shifting. Women in Sport research shows girls who already love and play sport can now dream about reaching the top of sport, with 86% of them believing they can be like a Lioness. But overall, a significant dream deficit remains overall with a third of girls about to dream of being a professional athlete, compared to half of boys.

It is high time society acknowledged the inherent value of women’s sport and its significance in the lives of women and girls. The New Year Honours serves as a powerful symbol of that.

New Year Honours recipients include:

  • Millie Bright, who captained England Lionesses to the World Cup final, receives an OBE
  • Lauren Hemp, England footballer, MBE
  • Mary Earps, England goalkeeper, MBE
  • Helen Housby, named player of the tournament at this year’s Netball World Cup, MBE
  • Olympic Gymnast Beckie Downie, and her sister Ellie Downie, former Olympic Gymnast, are both made MBEs
  • Maddie Hinch, GB Olympic gold medal winning hockey goalkeeper, OBE
  • Sports presenter Hazel Irvine, MBE
  • Ruth Shaw, CEO of the Premier League Charitable Fund, OBE
  • Janie Frampton, former football referee and referee manager, OBE
  • Christine Windmill (Tennis Scotland honorary vice-president), for services to tennis, OBE
  • Lynda Bennett, for services to hockey in Wales, MBE
  • Joslyn Hoyte-Smith (GB Olympians Association chair), for services to athletics, MBE
  • Miriam Luke (Henley Rowing Club president and Olympic silver medallist), for services to women’s rowing, MBE
  • Elinor Middlemiss (Scotland Commonwealth Games chef de mission), for services to sport, MBE
  • Kelly Fisher (professional pool, snooker and English billiards player) for services to sport, MBE
  • Bronwin Carter (Paralympic coach and 11 times weightlifting world champion) for services to sport, BEM
These are women who have dedicated their lives to achieving excellence and are at the forefront of the campaign for women’s sport to be given the credit it deserves.
Stephanie Hilborne, CEO Women in Sport


Stephanie Hilborne OBE, Chief Executive of Women in Sport said:

“There has been so much to celebrate in 2023 and it’s wonderful to see such incredible sportswomen recognised in the New Year Honours List. These are women who have dedicated their lives to achieving excellence and are at the forefront of the campaign for women’s sport to be given the credit it deserves. They have made sacrifices they should never have had to make and overcome barriers they should not have even existed. Their courage and resilience will ensure future generations of girls and women can feel they truly belong in sport.

“But alongside great success and moments of pride this year, we have seen misogyny cast its ugly shadow time and time again. 72% of girls who watched the FIFA World Cup told us it opened their eyes to the inequality at the top of sport. What message is that giving to young girls?

“Our research shows that success of elite women’s sport has allowed more girls to dream of reaching the top, far fewer girls than boys are still able to relate to this classic dream. Stubborn stereotypes, a lack of opportunity and limited funding is continuing to hold girls back. Having more women shine at all levels from athlete to broadcast to leadership can start to redress the balance. We know sport can build resilience, courage and self-belief but too many girls and women are missing out. The joy and sense of freedom that sport can provide is even more important than ever as so many people struggle to make ends meet.


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“Congratulations to all the women who have pushed boundaries in 2023. As we move into 2024 and our charity’s 40th birthday, we are optimistic about the continued progress of women’s sport remain steadfast in our commitment to expose injustice and break down barriers to create a world where all women and girls not only feel they belong in sport but can thrive.”