Secularist of the Year

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A roll-up banner reading "The Irwin Prize for Secularist of the Year"
The official Secularist of the Year poster used at the award ceremony.

Secularist of the Year (also known as the Irwin Prize) is an award presented annually by the UK's National Secular Society to the individual or organisation considered to have made the greatest contribution to secularism in the previous year. The prize consists of a trophy, the "Golden Ammonite", and a cheque for £5000. It was first awarded in 2005 and is sponsored by humanist and secularist campaigner Dr. Michael Irwin. The award ceremony normally takes place in London in March.


Year Recipient Citation Presenter
2005 Maryam Namazie For her work in defence of women's rights and the right to freedom of expression.[1] Polly Toynbee
2006 Steve Jones For his campaign against creationism and his promotion of science.[2] Dick Taverne
2007 Mina Ahadi For her work in support of Iranian women, against stoning and executions and in support of Muslims who renounce their religion.[3] Joan Smith
2008 Not awarded
2009 Lord Avebury, Evan Harris MP Jointly awarded for their contribution to the abolition of blasphemy law in the UK.[4][5] Richard Dawkins
2010 Southall Black Sisters For the group's support of black and Asian women's human rights (accepted by Pragna Patel).[6] Michael Irwin
2011 Sophie in 't Veld MEP For her work as chair of the European Parliamentary Platform for Secularism in Politics.[7] A. C. Grayling
2012 Peter Tatchell For his lifelong commitment in defence of human rights against religious fundamentalism.[8][9] Nick Cohen
2013 Plan UK In honour of young human rights activist Malala Yousafzai, the cash prize was donated to the charity for its campaign to ensure equal access to education for girls worldwide (accepted by Debbie Langdon-Davies).[10][11] Michael Cashman MEP
2014 Şafak Pavey For her work in defending human rights and the rights of women and minorities in Turkey.[12][13] Kerry McCarthy MP
2015 Charlie Hebdo For its courageous response to the terrorist attack in which several of its editors were assassinated.[14] Martin Rowson
2016 Educate Together For its commitment to delivering non-denominational, "equality-based" education to all children, irrespective of their social, cultural or religious background (accepted by Paul Rowe).[15] Julia Hartley-Brewer
2017 Yasmin Rehman For her advocacy of a secularist approach to tackling hate crime, promoting social cohesion and the human rights of women, and challenging sectarianism and theocracy.[16] Yasmin Alibhai-Brown
2018 Phil Johnson, Graham Sawyer For their work campaigning on behalf of survivors of child sexual abuse in the Church of England.[17][18] Peter Tatchell


  1. ^ "Maryam Namazie Named "Secularist of The Year"". National Secular Society. 12 Oct 2005. Retrieved 18 Mar 2012.
  2. ^ "Professor Steve Jones is Named "Secularist of The Year"". National Secular Society. 9 Oct 2006. Retrieved 18 Mar 2012.
  3. ^ "Iranian Dissident Wins Secularist of The Year Prize". National Secular Society. 21 Oct 2007. Retrieved 18 Mar 2012.
  4. ^ "Oxford MP is given secular award". BBC News. 8 Feb 2009. Retrieved 18 Mar 2012.
  5. ^ "Evan Harris MP and Lord Avebury win the National Secular Society's annual award for Secularist of the Year". National Secular Society. 7 Feb 2009. Retrieved 18 Mar 2012.
  6. ^ "Secularist of the Year prize awarded to Southall Black Sisters". National Secular Society. 14 Feb 2010. Retrieved 18 Mar 2012.
  7. ^ "Dutch MEP wins Secularist of the Year". National Secular Society. 19 Mar 2011. Retrieved 18 Mar 2012.
  8. ^ "Peter Tatchell named Secularist of the Year". National Secular Society. 17 Mar 2012. Retrieved 18 Mar 2012.
  9. ^ "Peter Tatchell named Secularist of the Year". Pink News. 19 Mar 2013. Retrieved 3 Nov 2013.
  10. ^ "Secularist of the Year prize fund donated to girls' education in honour of Malala Yousafzai". National Secular Society. 23 Mar 2013. Retrieved 23 Mar 2013.
  11. ^ "NSS Secularist of the Year prize money donated to charity in honour of Malala Yousafzai". The Freethinker. 23 Mar 2013. Retrieved 3 Nov 2013.
  12. ^ "Secularist of the Year awarded to Turkish MP, Safak Pavey". National Secular Society. 29 Mar 2014. Retrieved 29 Mar 2014.
  13. ^ "CHP deputy Şafak Pavey granted secularism award of UK-based NGO". Hürriyet. 29 Mar 2014. Retrieved 30 Mar 2014.
  14. ^ "Charlie Hebdo staff awarded Secularist of the Year prize for their response to Paris attacks". National Secular Society. 28 Mar 2015. Retrieved 28 Mar 2015.
  15. ^ "Educate Together awarded 'Secularist of the Year' prize". National Secular Society. 19 March 2016. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  16. ^ "Yasmin Rehman named Secularist of the Year 2017". National Secular Society. 18 March 2017. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  17. ^ "NSS names Phil Johnson and Graham Sawyer as Secularists of the Year". London: National Secular Society. 24 Mar 2018. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  18. ^ Sharman, Jon (24 March 2018). "Serving vicar named 'secularist of the year' after campaigning to expose sexual abuse in Church of England". The Independent. Retrieved 25 March 2018.