BY Amanda Connelly | June 21 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

4 martin

Glasgow teacher awarded MBE after 20 years of charity work

A Glasgow teacher has been honoured for his outstanding charitable work in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Martin O’Neill, a computing teacher at St Thomas Aquinas Secondary School in Jordanhill, Glasgow, has been awarded an MBE for his service and commitment to individuals with cerebral palsy and his charitable efforts over two decades.

Mr O’Neill was praised by St Thomas Aquinas’ Business and ICT department, saying that the award for one of their ‘very own’ was ‘very well-deserved,’ while Bobath Scotland, a charity which helps adults and children with cerebral palsy, of which Mr O’Neill has been a trustee and fundraiser since 1999, said they were ‘absolutely thrilled that his 20 years of volunteering and tireless support has been recognised.’

Congratulated

The 77th Glasgow Disabled Scouts group, of which Mr O’Neill is the Beaver leader, also extended their congratulations on Twitter.

Mr O’Neill expressed his surprise and gratitude at receiving his MBE, while adding that it was an award for not just himself but for his family too.

“To be honest, the initial reaction is shock and surprise that somebody actually thought me worthy enough of recognition in that way,” he said.

“I was shocked, but once I got over the initial surprise I felt quite humbled. On reflection, during the last few days, I’m deeply aware that the honour isn’t really mine,” he continued, citing the unwavering support of his wife and his sons, Michael, 18, and Dominic, 26.

 

Driving force

Mr O’Neill explained that his son Dominic has been the driving force behind his efforts, having been born prematurely in 1993 and suffering a bleed on his brain at two days old, causing him to have cerebral palsy.

It was while looking for a form of therapy that ‘would give us what we were looking for and support him’ that Mr O’Neill, his wife, and a group of four or five other sets of parents set about fundraising to open the current Bobath centre, which has now been offering services for over 20 years.

 

‘Picking up the slack’

“I’ve been doing that ever since,” he said. “Basically, you don’t get to be able to do the amount that you’re doing if there’s not somebody helping in the back picking up the slack.

“The amount of support I’ve been given initially by my wife, and latterly by my wife and my 18-year-old other son, Michael, has been fantastic.

“It’s a team effort, and sometimes we jokingly think of ourselves as Team Dominic—we’re there to provide what he requires and whatever he requires is the main focus of what we’re doing.”

He praised his wife, son and a group of friends who ‘you know are going to be there when you need them.’

 

Retiring

Mr O’Neill is now retiring from his 20-year tenure as a trustee with Bobath, having organised events, spoken to schools, clubs and community groups to raise awareness of cerebral palsy and the transformative effect that therapy can have to an individual’s quality of life, and even cycled from Bobath Wales to Bobath Scotland to raise funds for the charity’s 18th birthday.

 

Deserved honour

Stephanie Fraser, the chief executive of Bobath Scotland, said: “We are delighted that, as Martin celebrates his 60th birthday, he is to receive an MBE in recognition of his many years of commitment to helping people with cerebral palsy.

“Bobath Scotland owes a huge amount to Martin and his family and it is wonderful that, as he retires as a trustee, his service is being recognised publicly.

“It is a measure of his commitment that he is still volunteering at Bobath events and he will be leading the new Disabled Scouts Beaver group that will be based at Bobath Scotland’s centre from June onwards.

“Congratulations Martin. This is a well-deserved honour.”

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