Honoured by His Majesty The King – Helen Tonks MBE

Co-founder and Director, Hydraulics Online Ltd

For Services to Business and to Exports

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We are absolutely delighted to be able to share the news that Hydraulics Online co-founder Helen Tonks has been awarded an MBE in His Majesty The King's Birthday Honours List 2024.

The King’s Birthday Honours recognise the “extraordinary contributions and service of people across the United Kingdom” from all walks of life. Along with the New Year Honours, they are the most significant announcements of civilian and military gallantry awards.

2024 marks the second Birthday Honours List for His Majesty King Charles III. The King’s Birthday and New Year Honours lists are each published in the official newspaper of the Crown, The Gazette.

The Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) is awarded for an outstanding achievement or service to the community which stands out as an example to others. Helen has been awarded the MBE ‘For services to Business and to Exports’.


Services to Business and to Exports

Founded in 2004, Hydraulics Online is a successful, award-winning international brand, recognised for its exceptional service supporting customers in more than 130 countries. As a result, and on behalf of Hydraulics Online, Helen has been recognised as an Export Champion by the UK Government’s Department for Business and Trade every year since 2019.

Beyond international trade, both of our founders, Helen and Mark Tonks, are passionate about the opportunities to be found in engineering. A former school governor for 7 years, Helen is also well known for her ongoing work supporting education, the local community and with national groups, including Engineering UK, to promote both engineering and small business entrepreneurship as attractive career paths to the next generation.

In addition, Helen has dedicated a great deal of time to support local businesses and exporters. As well as working with the Department for Business Trade, Helen works with Be the Business, as a mentor and guest lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University Business School and its Centre for Enterprise and as a business dragon for its Young Enterprise UK start-up programme. She has also been a mentor on behalf of Small Business Britain and sits on the University of Leeds Business School’s International Business Divisional Advisory Board.

Named a Northern Power Woman in 2022, Helen is passionate about ‘paying it forward’ and sharing her knowledge and expertise with other local businesses and small business owners. To this end, she founded her own business consultancy service, InspiresMe Consulting in 2021, to allow her to mentor start-up and small business owners.

An absolute honour

Helen said, “I am still having a bit of a ‘pinch me’ moment about being included in The King’s 2024 Birthday Honours list. I was lost for words initially, as the news came completely out of the blue – I had no idea that I’d even been nominated! But now that the news has sunk in, my overwhelming feelings are sheer gratitude and pride.”

Helen continued,

Whilst the recognition is personal, it is testament to the hard work and dedication of the Hydraulics Online team and all that we have collectively achieved over the last 20 years. Hydraulics Online is seen as an exemplar to others and has given me a real platform to pay it forward to the wider business and educational community, regionally and nationally. It is such a huge privilege for anyone to receive an MBE; to be awarded such prestigious recognition of my work, doing something I love, is priceless.


Mark said,


We’re all so proud of Helen. She works tirelessly, not only to grow Hydraulics Online, but also to support the wider business community. She readily gives her time to mentor ambitious students, small business owners and leaders who need support, fresh ideas or a safe sounding board. Helen makes doing all this while being mum to our family of seven look easy, but we know it’s not. She totally deserves this honour.

More about the Honours System of the United Kingdom

The honours system celebrates the people who go above and beyond to change the world around them for the better; rewarding those doing vital and extraordinary work across the country. The system recognises the people who have:

  • selflessly volunteered their time and efforts;
  • gained the respect of their peers;
  • displayed moral and physical courage;
  • or showed real innovation and entrepreneurship.


The Order of the British Empire was established by King George V in 1917 to honour those who had served in a non-combative role and expanded the Order to reward contributions to the Arts, Sciences, Charitable work and Public Service. The Order comprises five classes across both military and civilian divisions. The Order also includes the British Empire Medal presented to those who have contributed to service in their community.

Helen Tonks MBE Kings Birthday Honours 2024

The Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) is awarded for:

“Achievement or service in and to the community which is outstanding in its field and has delivered sustained and real impact which stands out as an example to others.”

“The object of giving medals, stars and ribbons is to give pride and pleasure to those who have deserved them.”

Sir Winston Churchill Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1940 – 1945)