MBE for Solihull woman who has dedicated her life to helping vulnerable children - The Solihull Observer

MBE for Solihull woman who has dedicated her life to helping vulnerable children

Solihull Editorial 11th Nov, 2016   0

A SOLIHULL woman who has dedicated her life to children and young people has been awarded an MBE by the Queen.

Bernadette ‘Bernie’ Dornan was awarded the MBE for Services to Children and Families in Birmingham having spent the last 20 years as an Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO).

Appointed as one of the country’s first IROs, Bernie works alongside caseworkers to ensure looked-after children receive the care and support they need.

And while it may have been a daunting task to others, Bernie’s experience coupled with her winning sense of humour made the job all the more bearable.




Speaking of her surprise at receiving an MBE, she said: “No one was more surprised to receive such a prestigious award as me when the initial envelope landed on the mat in June.

“I thought one of my colleagues was just pulling my leg and I was waiting to see how long I was going to be kept in suspense.”


Bernie always dreamed of working with disadvantaged children, after she herself experienced the hardships of being brought up as one of seven children by her father in Erdington.

Bernie with husband, Michael, 21-year-old daughter, Hannah, and eldest sister, Mary, along for moral support. (s)

Bernie with husband, Michael, 21-year-old daughter, Hannah, and eldest sister, Mary, along for moral support. (s)

But she has not let her past define her and is keen to pass on the same message to the children she meets.

She told the Observer: “It’s about ensuring each child is thought of as an individual and not just shoe-horned into a neat category.

“Some of the children I meet have had really rough starts in life, but I am passionate about reminding them that they can be whatever they want to be – encouraging them to reach for the stars and achieve their aspirations.

“These days there are so many pressures on young people, as well as added financial pressure on children’s services.

“But I have always believed in the rights of children and young people and will always make sure they are put first.”

Bernie, who has lived in Solihull for the last 30 years, visited Buckingham Palace to collect her MBE – taking husband, Michael, 21-year-old daughter, Hannah, and eldest sister, Mary, along for moral support.

Humbled by the award, Bernie said she dedicated to all the staff who had supported to her and to the children who she had worked with.

“I would never have been able to do this without the wonderful colleagues and managers that always supported me in this role,” she said.

“The palace was marvelous and it completely took my breath away for the Queen herself to present me with my award.

“But I also couldn’t help by think about the children I have met – whose lives I have hopefully shaped and who, in turn, have touched my own life.”

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