A RETIRED Fivemiletown College teacher who also worked as a youth and community tutor says the news that he is a recipient of a BEM in The Queen's New Year's Honours list has come as a "pleasant surprise".

Kenny Graham, from Clogher, has been recognised for his services to young people and to the community in Fivemiletown.

He first started working at Fivemiletown College as a technology teacher in 1980. In 1986, he took up the post of Youth and Community tutor, which he did alongside his teaching.

Speaking about that role, Kenny said: "It was just a wee bit different to being a teacher – you are a community worker as well, but it was very enjoyable.

"I ran a youth club three nights a week, and then at weekends. You end up doing community work as well as youth work, so it was very busy for a long time.

"Then we got a new school and I was involved in getting funds and stuff for a new youth annex."

He described working with young people and adults as "very satisfying".

"You saw quite a few of the kids in class with the formal situation, and then you had this relationship with them in the evening after school. That was one of the good parts.

"In other words, the teacher had a bit of a personality," he explained, adding: "The kids could identify with you, and very often you could identify problems.

"Things would come up, and the kids could talk to you because of that [youth] work as well."

As well as working with young people and adults in programmes at the youth annex, Kenny ran the swimming pool programme at the school's "mini leisure centre", and was involved in the development of the Clogher Valley Rugby Football Club.

He explained: "In 1990, because I played rugby, I was involved in starting, like, a foundation development of the Clogher Valley RFC.

"That would have started off in the school as a fitness class sort of thing, and then we discovered that we were all rugby guys, so decided to play rugby against other teams.

"That was the start of the Clogher Valley RFC," said Kenny.

Commenting that receiving a BEM after retiring from his work in 2017 has come as a "very pleasant surprise", Kenny added: "It's a big thank-you for me and for my staff – I couldn't have done a lot of things without the staff, who worked as a brilliant team alongside me.

"I feel that they have some sort of ownership of it too, because it's not just me – it's teamwork, the whole thing."