City centre manager, Jim Roddy, said he was ‘gobsmacked’ when a letter arrived early in December, telling him he had been nominated for an MBE.
“You could have knocked me over with a feather,” he said, recalling the moment he opened the letter and read the contents.
After an initial period of wondering ‘why me?’ Mr Roddy said he felt humbled by the nomination.
He received the MBE for services to business and the community in Londonderry.
“It is not something I would expect nor was it ever something that I thought I wanted. I actually rang up the telephone number that it gives you on the letter and asked them about the process involved in nominating someone and they told me about it and that it was something that people had done, that people who knew me had nominated me for it.
“Since then I have spoken to a few people that know about these things in the city and they said they were waiting for me to tell them that I had got a letter; one of them, I think, may be the person that put the nomination together.
“When I asked them ‘Why me?’ they said ‘Nobody sees the work you do behind the scenes, but we all see it and all the people that did the testimony for this saw it and for that work we believe you should be rewarded’,” he said.
“I was extremely humbled by that because I had a different perspective on it. It became something local people were driven to do and they saw something that they wanted to see rewarded.
“Within my own job I do a lot of work with people that would involve working across the community, politicians, in different areas, trying to find solutions to difficult problems. I only see this city prospering when we have people working together and we have new jobs being created in this city, that benefit young people and so that everybody cam move forward.
“That work is ongoing and, I think, that is why I was put forward for this. I am extremely humbled and grateful to the people who look upon me like that. However, I do have to say that not everybody would see this as a reward. Some people would be very annoyed at me taking this. But, if I am going to be true to the work I do in reconciliation, how can I ask local people to reconcile their cultural and social differences if I don’t take it?
“I cannot ask people to take that extra step to reach out to people if I don’t I cannot be disingenuous to myself or to the people that put me forward for this and I want to thank them for this,” he said.