Veterans’ charity leader receives New Year’s honor after three decades of service

The work of a Stirling stalwart in supporting veterans across the Forth Valley has been recognized with a British Empire Medal.

Mary Kenyon, who is president of the regional division of the charity SSAFA, received the award in the New Year’s Honors List after three decades of service to military families, veterans and serving personnel for the charity.

The citation that accompanies the award salutes Mary’s “outstanding dedication and commitment” to the cause as a volunteer for over 28 years and hails her as an “outstanding leader and motivator” who acts as a mentor to bring out the best of people to achieve their goal. potential.

After learning of the honour, Mary said: ‘I am quite overwhelmed, almost embarrassed really, that the honor in this branch and for the work done in the east of Scotland has been bestowed on me.

“It really is an award for the whole team, and I’m absolutely delighted for them because they’ve worked so hard through so many changes over the past two years.

“It has been such a pleasure to work with all of them and I am extremely proud to be their representative in the New Year’s Honors List, and very touched that people have taken the time to prepare the application and offer me d be the recipient.

“The BEM is a fantastic reward for all of us locally, and says what SSAFA is all about.”

SSAFA operates across the UK, with 19 branches across Scotland – including Forth Valley – and provides a range of support and services to former service members.

The charity’s volunteers take on tasks such as social work, fundraising and community aid, with the Forth Valley division taking on around 500 referrals each year, of which almost 150 become cases in need of more help. targeted.

They range from simpler cases such as help with funeral costs to more complex issues involving physical or mental health issues that may require several months of support from start to finish.

Work is also carried out in conjunction with groups such as the Armed Services Advisory Project, regimental associations such as the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Association, the British Legion and the Wee County Vets, and other military charities.

SSAFA National Chairman Sir Gary Coward added: “Mary has always had a genuine interest in people and a strong desire to help others in need.

“She can be very persuasive when needed and does not give up easily, achieving amazing results in securing help from various organizations on behalf of SSAFA beneficiaries in need.

“Over the years with SSAFA, Mary has helped thousands of people and made a real difference in their lives and those of their families.

“Calling her a credit to SSAFA simply does not do justice to her contribution to the charity, or to the countless number of people she has helped over nearly three decades of volunteering with SSAFA.

“She embodies the positive attitude of all our volunteers, stepping in when needed and inspiring us all. »

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