A SELFLESS woman from Kinsale who has dedicated more than 30 years to helping others in London, has been recognised with a major honour.
Agnes Forde, of Greenwich, London, has been given a British Citizen Award for her services to the community and can now add ‘BCA’ after her name.
The BCAs recognise exceptional individuals who work tirelessly and selflessly to make a positive impact on society. They recognise ‘everyday’ people whose achievements may otherwise by overlooked.
Mrs Forde, (93), has been instrumental in developing a series of five successful lunch clubs providing hot, nutritious meals for the elderly in Greenwich, Bexley and Lewisham. The clubs not only provide sustenance, but also give those using them the chance to socialise with others, easing any isolation they may otherwise face.
Mrs Forde was born and lived in Kinsale until 1947, when she moved to London with her husband, Sean. The couple had two sons, Eugene and Terry. She first started volunteering in the 1980s, when she helped to establish an Irish community group, The Irish in Greenwich Association, and the Irish Pensioners.
The community group grew into the thriving Irish Community Service, which today provides information and practical services to tens of thousands of people and helps to promote cohesion, integration and community values.
In recognition of her years of volunteering and dedication to the service, Mrs Forde became their first president – a role of which she is immensely proud. She is also president of the Greenwich Irish Pensioners’ Association.
Mrs Forde has undertaken her numerous voluntary roles and duties with strength and courage through difficult times, including the sudden death of her husband just days before they were due to retire to Kinsale, the death of her son, Eugene, a personal battle with cancer and, in more recent years, deteriorating eyesight. Throughout all of this, her ‘least said, soonest mended’ attitude has provided a constant source of inspiration to those around her.
Agnes was one of 29 medallists who were honoured at a prestigious ceremony on January 26th, at the Palace of Westminster. Each received a Medal of Honour, inscribed with the words ‘For the Good of the Country’. Medallists are also invited to use the initials BCA after their name.
Speaking about her award, Mrs Forde, who has five grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren, said: ‘I’m absolutely delighted and thrilled about the award, it’s a real honour for me and a very big surprise. I couldn’t believe such a thing could happen to me.
‘I have loved meeting people through the various things I’ve done and I’m really over the moon to have been chosen for this award.”
Mrs Forde was nominated for a BCA by her grandaughter, Michelle Keleher, who said: ‘I’m so delighted that she is going to get some formal recognition for all she has done. Her efforts have been selfless and without reward or recognition. Her deep conviction is that the world becomes a better place when people act selflessly and she always places the needs of others before herself.’