Amid the rows over the benighted Nick Clegg getting a knighthood (for services to austerity and student debt?) and Theresa May desperately doling out baubles to the Tory 1922 Committee for keeping her in power, there were some gongs announced in the New Year’s Honours List which represented recognition of real public service and good works.
Or, “This is what awards are for”, as Jonathan Clark, the Bishop of Croydon, put it when he tweeted congratulations to Martin Williams, the chair of Croydon Foster Carers, for his MBE.
It is probably an overdue award for Williams and his work in what is, without doubt, a challenging and important area of public service.
But the formal announcement from Buckingham Palace fails to mention who made the nomination, when, or what for. Perhaps, then, the timing of this, and the mention of Croydon Council in Williams’ citation, is mere coincidence, and that the deeply damaging Ofsted report into the state of the council’s children’s services department, which is supposed to oversee fostered and cared-for children in the borough, has nothing to do with Williams’ honour.
Other Croydon-based recipients named in the 2018 New Year’s Honours List include an MBE for Jackie Adams-Bonitto, the London Fire Brigade’s head of training assurance, “For services to the Fire and Rescue Service and to Equality and Diversity”.
Adams-Bonitto, from Thornton Heath, said: “It was a total surprise to receive the letter. I opened it in front of my husband and when I digested the content it brought a tear to my eye as the award certainly wasn’t anything I was expecting.
“I feel I am receiving this not only for me, my family, friends and colleagues but on behalf of all minority staff in the Brigade. As the highest graded non-uniformed BME woman in the Brigade, I do feel a sense of responsibility to be a good role model for others.
“I feel so proud, honoured and humble but I also want to send a message that if women, particularly from a minority background, work hard they can achieve their goals and it doesn’t go unrecognised. I hope this award inspires others to be the best they can be.
“I love my job. Sometimes there are challenges but nothing is insurmountable.
“Knowing that my role, and that of my team and department, contributes to supporting front-line operational staff to do their job in keeping London and Londoners safe, is very satisfying. I would like to sincerely thank whoever was involved in nominating me.”
Purley’s Sylvia Moys also receives an MBE, “for services to the City of London Corporation and Education in Croydon”. A governor at Riddlesdown Collegiate in the past, Moys works at Lloyd’s insurance registry, and has been an elected Common Councilman for Aldgate ward in the City since 2001.
She also serves on a number of panels which oversee the City Commons and open spaces, which include Coulsdon Common and Farthing Down.
Other award-winners from Croydon include Ashish Soni “for voluntary and charitable services to Homeless People in London”. A civil servant with the Home Office, Soni spends much of his spare time helping to run a food kitchen for a Hare Krishna temple in Soho as part of its Food For Life project.
And Margaret Burn, a senior figure within the Salvation Army in Croydon, has been recognised with a British Empire Medal, “for services to the Salvation Army and Vulnerable People”.
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