Olivia Newton-John is named a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images
Olivia Newton-John is named a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
CNN —  

Director Sam Mendes and Grease star Olivia Newton-John are among those on the UK’s New Year’s Honours List announced Friday.

Sir Elton John is one of two knights this year who are being elevated to an even higher echelon, Companion of Honor, of which there are only 65 individuals at any given time.

And dozens of Holocaust survivors are being honored “for services to Holocaust Education.”

The annual list is published by the UK’s Cabinet Office, and recognizes British people for excellence in a spectrum of pursuits, ranging from arts and athletics to science and politics.

This year, the list includes the team, coaches and volunteers involved with England’s Cricket World Cup victory.

The list of honors is published biannually, once at New Year’s, and then again for the Queen’s birthday, according to the royal family.

In total, 1,097 people made the New Year’s list, with just over half being women.

The majority of those listed are receiving the award for their outstanding community service. Those include a 25-year-old recognized for his work combating extremism in the UK, and 13-year-old Ibrahim Yousaf – the youngest on the list – for his charitable work.

Winners will receive their medals during 30 or so separate Investiture ceremonies held throughout the year at Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle.

Queen Elizabeth II dubs newly minted knights with a sword that previously belonged to her father, George VI.

Although knights and dames may be the most well-known commendations, there’s a hierarchy of ranks in the honors system, according to the UK government.

The Honors system, explained

At the highest level is the Companion of Honor, awarded those who’ve made major contributions in the arts, science, medicine, or government over an extended period of time.

Next, the distinction of being a knight or dame is conferred on those who’ve made long-term national contributions seen as inspirational or significant.

The Commander of the Order of the British Empire, or CBE, is for those who’ve played a “prominent but lesser role at the national level, or a leading role at the regional level, according to the UK government.

The Officer of the Order of the British Empire, or OBE, is for those who’ve taken a major role in local activities, and through that come become known nationally in their chosen area.

The Member of the Order of the British Empire, or MBE, is for outstanding achievement or service to one’s community.

Finally, the British Empire Medal, or BEM, is for those who’ve done “hands-on” service for their local community, including voluntary activity or innovation work.

CNN’s Laura El-Tantawy and Jonny Hallam contributed to this story.