THE New Year got off to an amazing start for Joanna Boyd, Women’s Officer at Derry City Council.
The hard-working woman received an MBE in the New Year Honours list for “services to Local Government in Northern Ireland”.
Joanna only realised she had been nominated to receive the ‘Gong’ six weeks ago, when a letter landed on her hall mat.
“I’m not sure who nominated me, it does not say who nominates you, but I am assuming it could be someone that has worked with me. I honestly don’t know who it was, but it is very exciting to be nominated. All I know is that I was nominated as Women’s Officer, for services to local government.
“It has come as a bolt out of the blue to be honest, I got justa ‘Private and Confidential’ letter from the Cabinet Office, and that’s all it says on the outside of the envelope. Les, my husband, got the letter and he phoned e to work and said ‘Have you been phoning London?’ I said ‘Not as far as I am aware.’ So he said ‘Well, there’s a letter here from the Cabinet Office.’ This was about 4pm so I said ‘Don’t you open it.’ So I went home and opened the letter and it just said that I had been recommended by the Prime Minister to receive the MBE,” she said.
Describing herself as “nervous and excited” she said the letter did not give her a lot of information, but she understood that she had to go to Buckingham Palace to receive the accolade.
“The letter said that it would be formally announced on December 29 and that within six months you go for your investiture and the invitation will come out five weeks prior to the investiture. So at least you have five weeks’ notice.”
At the minute Joanna isn’t even thinking of what she will wear, as she does not know if she will get the call to London in the Winter months or in the Spring.
“You cannot plan really until you get the date to go over, but it is exciting, but also very proud,” she said, adding: “It is great to see someone working in women’s services getting an acknowledgement for their role in the community, ad I want to thank whoever it was who nominated me for thinking of me.
“To be honest I can’t think straight at the minute I am so surprised and delighted, but I have returned by letter to say I have accepted it, but yes, it is wonderful to be nominated and I am very grateful and humbled to think that someone has nominated me.”
A spokesperson from the Council said: “Joanna has been working as women’s officer with Derry City Council since January 2004 where she is responsible for supporting women’s groups and organizations across the Council area. A key element of her work is working in partnership with cross community and cross border women’s groups and hosting an annual community relations conference in the city. Joanna is also responsible for organizing the annual Women of the Year awards and providing a range of support services to assist women’s groups.
“Joanna is also a member of the Foyle Women’s Information Network, Women Into Politics and Women into Public Life. On a personal capacity she is the current chairman of the Waterside branch of the Royal British Legion.”