I agree with Ernie Kay MBE (Your Letters, January 9) that some of the debate on our honours system is indeed sad.

My late father was very proud of his MBE for services to the theatre (including the Malvern Festival Theatre Trust), as was my late mother of her OBE for her charitable work. Both received their awards for their voluntary activities, which in my view is as it should be, and colleagues shared in their pride.

The complaint now by a very few that any mention of the 'Empire' should be removed because we no longer have an empire should be disregarded. Should we get rid of Knights of the Garter because people no longer wear garters? The most honourable Order of the British Empire is part of our heritage and our history.

Philip Bushill-Matthews, MEP, European Parliament, Brussels.