THE founder of an organisation which aims to give children the best chance in life after the pain of family breakdown has been awarded an OBE.
Gordon John Lee, chief executive officer Malachi Community Trust, has been awarded the honour for services to children. Mr Lee, aged 68, of Leigh Sinton, near Malvern, set up the charity in 1991 to help young people affected by complex and adverse family circumstances.
The father of three who also raised two step-children knows first-hand the effect of family breakdown, having been raised by a man who was not his biological father, only discovering this in his 20s. He said because of this he understand what it was like to be ‘on the inside’.
After running a building company in the 1980s he had what he called ‘a light bulb moment’ working as a church-based community worker which he said opened his eyes to the difference he could make. The charity runs both local schools contracts and national, Government contracts.
He said of his OBE: “My reaction was total shock. I was in the shower the day the letter arrived. My wife came rushing up the stairs saying ‘you have a letter from the Cabinet Office!’ I feel extremely honoured.”
He said of his work: “It gives them the best chance of getting the best out of their education. If you look at the research evidence children can be heavily disadvantaged if they don’t get a good sound, secure start.”
The organisation now employs between 50 and 60 people, supporting 100 schools in Worcestershire, Birmingham and the South West.
A woman who has devoted years to supporting families in Bromyard has been awarded an MBE.
Sheenagh Davis, 56, received the award for her services to children and families.
Sheenagh set up the HOPE Family Centre in the town in 1999, following years of running nurseries and youth groups in the community.
The centre offers a range of services, such as emotional support, help filling in forms and adult training.
"I'm very humbled and honoured to receive the award," Sheenagh said.
"I have to thank my family and the team at HOPE, who are all superb. I couldn't have done it without them. I think my success is also down to my faith in God which has kept me going. I have done a lot within the community, but it's a community which I really do love."