Soroptimist’s shock at British Emire Medal

BEM: Mary McKinney, NI Regional President Elect, Soroptimist JOU 4214-1891MT.
BEM: Mary McKinney, NI Regional President Elect, Soroptimist JOU 4214-1891MT.

A lifetime of voluntary service has netted a Londonderry woman a BEM in the New Year’s Honours.

Mary McKinney from Culmore Road in Londonderry, received the gong for services to the community in the City and County of Londonderry.

Married to husband Dennis, the couple have two grown up children; a daughter working in the Fire and Rescue Service in Liverpool, and a son who is employed with Ulsterbus.

“I got a letter about four weeks ago that any name had bee put forward,” she said.

“To be quite honest, I was very shocked as it was not something I had ever thought about and I don’t know who it came from but it is very nice of them and I want to thank those involved in putting my name forward.

“There was a moment when I thought that it was not for me and that I an not into this, but then when I thought about it, I thought ‘somebody has gone to the trouble of putting a nomination for me through’ and in deference to them I respect their thoughts about me and accept it.

“It is very nice to have people thinking about you. I do quite a bit of voluntary work and I am very involved in the soroptimists and will be the Regional President next year, so at the moment I am the NI Regional President Elect.

“I have been in the Soroptimists for 24 years and have held different offices in that time. I have been the President three times, secretary for six to eight years and treasurer for a couple of years too, and I assisted with the Public Speaking Competition this year.”

In addition to this, Mary has also served on the Executive Committee for many years.

“After I first got involved I suppose it would have been a member for four years before I really got into it, and over the years I have been very much involved in all aspects of the organisation and represent the club at regional level and have also served as the Programme Access Officer.

“We work at local level as well as regional, national and international and most of the work is aimed at promoting women and women’s roles in society, we also support small charities like the Eglinton Community Quiz in November when we raised money for COC for autism, we also did charity work for Marie Curie. The charity we support during each year is at the President’s discretion and at regional and international level we are focused on promoting women and girls, for example one of our campaigns was providing solar lamps to families with children so that they could study at night and we have also done work in Sierra Leone getting women off the street,” she said.

Other aspects of her charity work include being a member of the Board at St Columb’s Park House, volunteering at Altnagelvin Hospital and in the past she was also involved with the St John 
Ambulance.