Specsavers co-founder Dame Mary Perkins has become one of the first high-profile patrons for a prestigious new national awards scheme.
The British Citizen Awards (BCA) recognise exceptional people who work tirelessly and selflessly to make a positive impact on society. Awarded twice annually, the awards aim to recognise everyday people whose achievements may otherwise be overlooked.
Dame Mary Perkins joins well-known personality from the BBC television show Dragons' Den, Hilary Devey, CBE, as patron of the new awards.
The BCA highlights that philanthropist Dame Mary Perkins was named by BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour as one of the 100 most powerful women in the UK in 2013.
Commenting on the award recipients and nominees, Dame Mary Perkins, said: "Specsavers firmly believes in giving back to those communities we serve, just as these celebrated people do.
"I cannot applaud enough the selflessness of all the individuals who have been nominated. Their tireless work makes a huge impact on society, one which we cannot, and should not, overlook. To play a part in their celebration, as the awards' patron, is a great honour."
Successfully launched in January, the inaugural BCA ceremony saw 28 people honoured at a prestigious ceremony at the Palace of Westminster.
Thirty people have been selected to receive a medal at the next ceremony, which will take place on 9 July, again at the Palace of Westminster.
All BCA recipients receive a medal of honour, inscribed with the words, 'For the good of the country'. Medalists are also invited to use the initials BCA after their name.
Ms Devey, founder of Pall-Ex Group, said: "I became patron of the BCAs because I wholeheartedly believe that exceptionally devoted and dedicated people, whose selfless efforts make our world a better, safer, healthier and happier place, deserve to be honoured. I'm proud to be involved in an organisation which recognises and celebrates our nation's unsung heroes."
Co-founder of the awards, Mike Faulkner, thanked both the new patrons for "their committed support".
Mr Faulkner added: "In every community someone knows somebody who is deserving of recognition, and it all starts with a simple nomination. Although we are unable to accept nominations for the July presentations, people are encouraged to nominate now for January 2016.
"This programme, which many see as the 'People's Honours', has been created to enable anyone that positively impacts the community or society at large to get the recognition they deserve."