Her Majesty has singled out many outstanding citizens for her birthday honours list this year. In addition to highlighting these men and women who work so hard for their communities, the Queen also drew attention this year to those who have gone above and beyond to help during the Covid pandemic.

Elizabeth (Lizzie) Keys, Lisnarick

ELIZABETH (Lizzie) Keys from Lisnarick says she is “gratefully honoured and humbled” to have been nominated for a British Empire Medal (BEM) for her services to road safety in Northern Ireland.

At the age of 19, Lizzie was involved in a serious car accident which left her paralysed.

Over the past 12 years she has been travelling around Northern Ireland, raising awareness of the importance of road safety by sharing her story as part of the PSNI Roadsafe Roadshow team, which also includes representatives from the police, ambulance and fire services, and is sponsored by AXA.

Saying that she was “shocked and very surprised” by the news of being awarded a BEM for her services to road safety, Lizzie said: “I’m gratefully honoured and humbled to have been nominated – it’s as much for everyone involved in the show as it is for me, as without them all, I would never have had the courage to keep going this long at it.

“Hopefully, what I have been doing has made a difference to some people locally, and within the whole of Northern Ireland.”

Saying that she is disappointed that the PSNI Roadsafe Roadshow had to be cancelled this year due to the pandemic, Lizzie said: “Obviously, because of Covid, we weren’t able to do the show this year.

“This would have been the year we would’ve been doing the Fermanagh and Tyrone show.

“Hopefully, this Covid situation will be over soon, and we can get back out doing shows again soon.

“Just because there is a pandemic happening doesn’t mean our roads are any safer,” she said.

On how she became involved in the Roadshow, Lizzie added: “I was approached 12 years ago this week to stand in for another paraplegic who wasn’t well, and I’ve sort of become a full-time part of the team.

“I couldn’t do it without the team – they are amazing.”

Leone Burns, Enniskillen

AN ENNISKILLEN woman who has been recognised with an MBE for her contribution to health care during the Covid-19 pandemic says she is “overwhelmed, humbled and extremely honoured” to receive the award.

Leone Burns has worked with the Western Health and Social Care Trust for the past 20 years, taking on the role of Head of Contracting Services earlier this year.

She was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in recognition of her contribution to the Coronavirus response as an exemplar of the wide range and exceptional community and front-line service given across the country in recent months.

Speaking about her award, Leone said: “On receiving this award, I have to say I am overwhelmed, humbled and extremely honoured.

“I graciously accept this award on behalf of the Contracting Services Department of the Western Trust, and on behalf of all of my colleagues. We collectively have been faced with one of the toughest challenges for our health service in recent times.

“I have witnessed true team-working, collective leadership and a steadfast commitment to ensuring our Trust provides the most safe and effective care during this pandemic.

“I am very proud to be an employee of the Western Trust, and of the quality of service it provides to our local population.

“The support of the people within our local community, and our partners within the independent and community and voluntary sector during this time has been astounding, and I want to thank them all and ask them to continue to work with us, and we will all get through this together,” she said.

Marie Therese McDermott, Dromore

DROMORE resident Marie Therese McDermott, who has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours as a Medallist of the Order of the British Empire (BEM) for her services to nursing in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, says she is “honoured” to receive the award.

“It was totally unexpected, but a real honour and privilege to receive the award on behalf of the health care team,” she told The Impartial Reporter.

In April, Marie Therese – who is the Endoscopy Unit Manager at the South West Acute Hospital (SWAH), Enniskillen and Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex – was redeployed to manage the Covid-19 Swab Team for the Southern Sector of the Trust.

Speaking about her role in managing the Covid-19 Swab Team, she said: “I am a Sister for Endoscopy in the SWAH and in Omagh Hospital, and whenever Covid struck we were all redeployed.

“My job was to manage the Swab Team, whereby we provided a testing service for all the staff and the staff’s relatives, and then when the elective work came back, we tested all the patients who were due to come for procedures, operations and endoscopy procedures, so that’s what we’re doing.

“I’m very humbled to receive this award and, again, it’s really an award for the team, which I just happen to head up.

“It’s been a real honour and in the extraordinary times that we are in, it’s just been a real lift for everyone,” said Marie Therese.

Roland Eadie, Lisbellaw

AFTER spending many years getting people honours as part of his former role as Deputy Lord Lieutenant for Fermanagh, Roland Eadie (76), from Lisbellaw, said: “It was quite a shock – I wasn’t sitting waiting for it!” when it was announced he had been awarded an OBE for services to the community in County Fermanagh.

Alongside serving as Deputy Lord Lieutenant since 1978, Roland has served the community in many other ways.

He served as Vice Lord Lieutenant in Fermanagh from 2014 until his retirement from the role in 2019 on turning 75.

Roland was one of the founding partners for Eadie, McFarland and Co. Estate Agents in Enniskillen alongside Robert McFarland, which began in 1971.

He said he was “greatly honoured” to receive his nomination, adding: “I feel it is very much for Fermanagh as well.”

Roland has been involved in many organisations throughout the years: “I was involved in statutory bodies, and most of them were in Belfast and I was picked to represent Fermanagh.”

He has also served on a range of bodies, including The NI Countryside Commission (1983-91), The Historic Buildings Council for NI (1987-94), and The Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Committee for Co Fermanagh.

Roland has been involved in many organisations, including Enniskillen Rotary Club, Enniskillen Yacht Club Charitable Trust, as a Governor at Portora Royal School, and he is currently serving as a Trustee for Irvine Memorial Charitable Trust.

He said he was “humbled, as the award is an OBE – people who raise lots of money for charity or singers and footballers usually get them, but I’m none of those, everything I’ve done has been voluntary”.

He was looking forward to the award, but will wait a while until he receives it. He laughed: “Even the Queen can’t have people in her palace with the Covid restrictions!”

Peter Little, Enniskillen

PETER Little has been “overwhelmed with messages and phone calls from all over the place, from old friends and people many years ago” after the announcement came that the Enniskillen man was awarded an MBE for his services to the community in the town.

Peter said he was “thrilled, honoured and deeply humbled that someone thought to nominate me”, adding that he is unsure who or what groups had put him forward for the honour from the Queen.

He is known to many across the county for his role in business in Enniskillen, as a director of TP Toppings car dealership, where he worked for 45 years before retirement from his business life. The landmark business was founded by Mr Little’s grandfather, and had been in Enniskillen for almost 90 years before it closed in 2019.

Peter has been involved with school governance across Enniskillen, serving for many years in several schools. He has served in governance for Enniskillen Model Primary School, the former Collegiate Grammar School, and former Portora Royal School.

He had a key role in the amalgamation of the two former schools, and now serves as the current Chair of the Board of Governors for Enniskillen Royal Grammar School.

Peter is an active member of Enniskillen Methodist Church, Darling Street, where he serves as a steward. He is also involved in the wider Methodist Church movement across Ireland.

He has lived in Enniskillen all his life, and said: “I am very lucky to live in this community; I have no regrets that I didn’t move anywhere, and I have no desire to leave. I have enjoyed trying to make a positive contribution to this community.”

Peter is looking forward to a visit to London with his wife to receive his award when Coronavirus restrictions allow the visit to take place.

Rev. Canon Paul Hoey, Eglinton

AFTER serving 30 years of his ministry in Fermanagh, Canon Paul Hoey relocated to Eglinton, Londonderry where he has been part of major community efforts, with his efforts now recognised by the Queen with the awarding of an MBE for his services to the community in Eglinton, Londonderry.

Canon Paul believes he was awarded the nomination for helping the community for two reasons: “There was flooding here in Eglinton in August, 2017, so there were 200 families out of their home; 20 per cent of the parishioners were out of their home.

“At Christmas we got them a big meal together, as some of them had been placed 15 miles away from their neighbours, so hadn’t seen them and we got them grants to help them.”

Canon Paul also aided the community during the Coronavirus pandemic as he co-ordinated “Eglinton Together” with other clergy members and the local community centre, resulting in a group of 90 helping to deliver medicines and making phone calls to those in isolation.

He said: “We sent out 5,000 leaflets with contact numbers to help people across the community.”

The group also expanded the local Meals on Wheels programme so it could deliver more hot meals to those who were shielding across the community.

Canon Paul is originally from Belfast, but served as rector of Cleenish and Bellanaleck Parish for seven years, and spent 13 years as rector in Magheracross Parish Church, Ballinamallard.

He then spent time as a roving minister across Fermanagh and held services in Ardess Parish Church.

Since 2015, Canon Paul has served as rector in St. Canice’s Church, Faughanvale.

He still has a strong love of the county and visits when he can. He said:”It was lovely to get greetings from Fermanagh friends when the news was announced.”

Caroline Lee, Belfast (from Kinawley)

THE Head of the Clinical Education Centre for Nurses, Midwives and Allied Health Professions, Kinawley native Caroline Lee, says she is “absolutely thrilled and delighted” to have been recognised as a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for services to healthcare during the Covid-19 response.

Speaking to The Impartial Reporter, Caroline said that when she was first notified of her award, she thought it was a mistake.

Laughing, Caroline said: “I received an email out of hours from the Cabinet Office, and when I looked at it, at first I thought it was spam, and very nearly deleted it!

“It was then asking, if I was awarded an MBE would I accept it, so I immediately went back and said, ‘Yes please’!

“I’m absolutely thrilled, delighted and stunned,” she added.

Caroline is Head of the Clinical Education Centre, which has four sites: in Belfast, Craigavon Hospital, Antrim Area Hospital and Altnagelvin.

She said: “I would have staff in each of those four sites who look after the development and training of registered nurses, midwives and Allied Health Professionals. I’ve been doing that for a number of years now.

“I have been a nurse for 36 years, so I’m really proud to represent nursing in getting this award.

“There are a number of nurses in Northern Ireland [who were also recognised by the Queen’s honours] this year so I’m just really pleased for that,” she told this newspaper.

COMMENT

The Impartial Reporter would like to congratulate each of these very worthy figures who were included on this year’s birthday honours list from Her Majesty.

They individually and collectively embody the spirit of community that’s ingrained right across Northern Ireland, which has been brought to the fore by the Covid-19 crisis this year.

While we all face an uncertain wait until we can return to a Covid-free future, we can draw comfort from the fact that there are so many wonderful citizens – and many others who weren’t on this year’s list – who are working to help all of us, right now.