SSAFA volunteers and staff recognised in New Years honours 2017
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This year, SSAFA have the privilege of having three volunteers awarded a BEM in the new year awards, nominated by General Sir Kevin O'Donogue, KCB CBE, Chairman of SSAFA. These include Jackie Avery, Pamela Reynolds, and Amanda Park.
Jackie Avery came to SSAFA Devon in 1991 as a caseworker. She excelled in this role, with her compassion, effiency and empathy aligning her with SSAFA's core values and giving her the strength to take on many very difficult cases. An excellent communicator, she established a strong rapport for her clients and unfailingly did her best to ensure they got the help they needed as soon as possible. Following four years as a caseworker, she became Divisional Secretary of North Devon & Torridge, a geographically widespread and very busy division helping 250 clients each year, comprising over 100 cases and a 150 visits and contacts, which for more than 18 years she has managed with outstanding proficiency, creating a perfect model for other SSAFA divisions. She has a keen eye for good opportunities to promote the charity - leading to benefits for the whole branch. An exceptional volunteer, whether fundraising and increasing public awareness or recruiting volunteers she has established strong links in the county; frequently invited to speak about SSAFA at meetings of other organisations she has used her incomparable experience and exceptionally persuasive skills to influence and encourage them to work with and provide support for the charity.
Pamela Reynolds joined Reading Division in February 2009 and has worked tirelessly to support the military community since, in particular empowering women of ethnic minorities. After finding out in 2011 that the growing population of Gurkha wives in Reading spoke little or no English and most signed documents with a thumb print, former teacher Pam decided to provide English lessons. Despite setting up her first class for 10 women, 60 showed up! Refusing to be daunted, Pam organised a team approaching churches, voluntary action groups and the local newspaper for support and help. Through this initiative she recruited volunteer teachers and raised money at local fetes to provide teaching materials; within a year Pam was running weekly classes for about 70 wives. Increasing attendance again raised the number on the register to 155 by April 2013 and with 42 teaching volunteers and eight Reading College placement students she was providing 66 sessions annually. Pam has also worked tirelessly to help integrate Gurkha women into the local community - with particular attention to health and social issues. From early 2015 there was a second significant change in Pam’s SSAFA responsibilities: that markedly increased when, following the loss of the division secretary, the treasurer and four caseworkers, she immediately stepped in to run the whole Reading Division. In short, her extraordinary contributions and dedication to the work of SSAFA and her enhancement of the lives of Gurkha wives deserve national recognition.
Last but not least is Amanda Park - a volunteer with British Service charities since 1975, working in the sensitive setting of the Republic of Ireland. With SSAFA she has been a caseworker, branch trustee and the Republic of Ireland Branch’s most successful fundraiser. In a place where the legacy of the War of Independence and the more recent Troubles have continued to rouse passions, Amanda has continued her vital work. With only a small number of helpers, for the past 40 years she has been running the Pringle Raffle (named in memory of her mother), and during the intervening 40 years she has raised Euros 111,251 net for the SSAFA branch and a comparable figure for the Poppy Appeal.
We have also had the honour of staff member Dona Budd, a Personal and Family Support worker for the Personal Support and Social Work Service RAF based at RAF Boulmer receiving an AOC 1 GP Commendation, and are also proud to celebrate the RAF Lossiemouth Welfare Team who were awarded a Team Commendation in the New Year’s Honours List. The citation reflects the diverse and integrated nature of the team referring to the PMS Staff, the Medical Centre Staff, The Chaplaincy Team and SSAFA.
To all those awarded, and all our volunteers, thank you for your continued work and dedication to SSAFA and helping those who have given so much. Your support does not go unnoticed.