New Year honours for three Bromley residents

PUBLISHED: 10:00 28 December 2019

Michelle Paul, standing on the right, with her volunteers, manager and a couple of trustees. Picture: Turn Around

Michelle Paul, standing on the right, with her volunteers, manager and a couple of trustees. Picture: Turn Around


Three people from Bromley have been named in the Queen’s New Year Honours List.

Linda Dominguez is  recognised for her work with St Ambulance. Picture: Linda DominguezLinda Dominguez is recognised for her work with St Ambulance. Picture: Linda Dominguez

Michelle Paul, founder of a numeracy and literacy organisation, has been made an MBE. Linda Dominguez, of Beckenham, is made an MBE for her work with St John Ambulance. And Stephen Groom, of Bromley, is awarded the BEM for his work in the international aid sector.

Michelle, 68, founded Turn Around in 2005, a free one-to-one service providing tuition in reading, writing and basic maths.

She started helping children and adults with literacy in 1985 having recognised there is a gap in the provision of these vital skills for those who could easily be left behind.

With the support of a corporate donation she set up Turn Around, which went on to help hundreds of students.

Stephen Groom gets a BEM for his work with the Department for International Development.  Picture: Stephen GroomStephen Groom gets a BEM for his work with the Department for International Development. Picture: Stephen Groom

She said the charity offers a unique service: providing a flexible approach to address the root cause of a student's literacy difficulties by attending to individual problems.

She is now its chairman of trustees.

The charity focuses on the student's needs rather than a formulaic provision of a standard service and demonstrates the importance of learning engagement with people who would otherwise be struggling.

Some of her greatest examples of success include an 82-year-old illiterate woman who went on to read in church lessons.

And there was a girl who couldn't read any English but has since obtained one of the highest scores in the local selective school's examination.

In 2017, Turn Around delivered some 1,600 sessions to 100 students.

She told us: "This award is a tribute to Turn Around's excellent manager, trustees and, especially, volunteers, past and present, who have worked enthusiastically to improve the lives of all our wonderful students.

"The students have many reasons for coming to us for help with literacy and/or numeracy: perhaps they want to do better at school or college; to fit themselves for work, or for looking for work, or for seeking promotion, or to be able to help their children or grandchildren to make the best use of their educational opportunities. Sometimes students become volunteers themselves, putting to use their new skills."

Linda has been associated with the St John Ambulance for 45 years as both an employee and volunteer.

As a volunteer she held many roles in London area and national HQ where her last role was as a staff officer to the senior volunteers.

Linda, 62, has been an employee since 1974, working in several departments but for the past 22 years, she has been the head of safeguarding.

In this role, she leads a team of 200 staff and volunteers who train both employees and volunteers across the organisation in the protection of children and vulnerable adults.

Thanks to her vast experience and encyclopaedic knowledge of the charity and her subject area she has been able to continually develop and implement the organisation's policies, procedures and resources ensuring that it is a much admired example of compliance with national and legal safeguarding regulations.

She told us: "This was so totally unexpected I am extremely honoured and thrilled to be receiving the MBE for my services to St John Ambulance. I am truly grateful for this recognition. It is a humbling experience. I would like to pay thanks to everyone who has supported me.

"Achieving this recognition would not have been possible without the inspiration I have received from my colleagues, family and friends for whom I have the deepest respect, and from whom I have derived the strength to challenge myself and try to be and give the best that I can."

Since 2007 she has also devoted a significant amount of her free time to 'One in Four,' a charity that specialises in supporting survivors of sexual violence and abuse, particularly survivors of child sexual abuse and trauma.

Linda said she needs to share their recuperative journey thus enabling them to become a person who can be all they can be, a motto she holds dear.

Stephen works for the Department for International Development.

He is given the British Empire Medal for his contributions to helping to fight poverty and keeping staff safe during a four-decade long career.

He said: "I was surprised and delighted to receive news of the honour and am grateful to those colleagues who submitted and supported my nomination. I have worked with numerous teams across the years and this honour reflects on their contributions as well.

"I am proud to have contributed, in some small way, to the UK's efforts to improve the opportunities and lives of children and families across the world. Recent global events have shown how important our work continues to be, just as it was, when I joined the department over 40 years ago.

"In accepting this award, I will do so on behalf of my fellow team members and other colleagues whose commitment and invaluable work help enable UK aid to deliver development programmes and humanitarian assistance to make the world a better place."

Stephen's career at DFID started as a clerical worker looking after departmental files. He has since gone on to work on development projects to improve health, education, and rural infrastructure in developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Pacific.

In his current role as deputy head of the department's Security Unit he is responsible for keeping staff safe: a lofty task for an organisation working to reach the poorest people in countries, including those affected by serious conflict such as Afghanistan and Iraq.

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