The British honours system is a means of rewarding individuals' personal bravery, achievement, or service to the United Kingdom and the British Overseas Territories. The system consists of three types of award: honours, decorations and medals:
- Honours are used to recognise merit in terms of achievement and service.
- Decorations tend to be used to recognise specific deeds.
- Medals are used to recognise bravery, long and/or valuable service and/or good conduct.
William Cole was knighted - which permitted him to add "Sir" before his name.
Excerpted from Wikipedia.