A British religious sister has been made Member of the Order of the British Empire in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for her achievements and services to end modern slavery.
She is joined by the prominent Catholic, James (Jimmy) Burns, who was made an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his services to UK and Spain relations.
Sr Imelda Poole, from the order of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (IBVM), heads up a network of European religious fighting trafficking and exploitation (RENATE).
Sr Imelda became President of RENATE following over 11 years working in Albania where the IBVM founded an NGO called Mary Ward Loreto.
Amongst other projects the Mary Ward Loreto has founded six Mary Ward centres working in prevention, advocacy, awareness, and rescuing of women. The centres have worked with 3,000 women, and set up 16 economic empowerment businesses. They also have a men’s project aimed at changing patriarchal culture and promoting gender equality.
Sr Imelda has also spent years working with disadvantaged people in Glasgow, London and Manchester. She has also experienced life with the Kipsigi tribe in Keberneti, Kenya.
In a blog post for Global Sisters Report, Sr Imelda said she saw her work as part of God’s mission.
“I see God as at the very heart of the mission. It is God’s mission and so the work of God will continue always – whoever is there to pick up this response to those on the margins and the neglected peoples of our world”, she said.
RENATE has a five-year strategic plan that includes combating human trafficking in all forms. It is currently focusing on child kidnapping and trafficking.
In February, RENATE spear-headed the anti-child trafficking campaign in Europe for the day of Saint Josephine Bakhita, the patron saint of slaves.
On the announcement of the award, the British Ambassador to the Holy See, Sally Axworthy, said:
“I am delighted to learn that Sr. Imelda Poole has been awarded this honour by Her Majesty The Queen. It is well-deserved recognition of Sr. Imelda’s outstanding service in combatting human trafficking and modern slavery, through the European religious sisters’ anti-trafficking network RENATE which she leads, and through and Talitha Kum, the religious sisters’ worldwide anti-trafficking network. Sister Imelda is a key ally in Her Majesty’s Government’s campaign to eradicate modern slavery. It is wonderful to see such a distinguished friend of this Embassy honoured in this way.”
The Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Vincent Nichols, who is president of the Santa Marta Group which works to prevent human trafficking and modern slavery, said: "I congratulate Sister Imelda on her award, from Her Majesty the Queen, of the MBE for her work against human trafficking.
I owe this honour to my close family, friends, and colleagues who have supported the work of this British and Jesuit educated boy (Stonyhurst) as a volunteer chairman with the British Spanish Society and professional work as an author, and journalist.”
Speaking to the Tablet, he added: "My daughters had never heard of the OBE but were excited that I'd received the same award as Keira Knightley."
Other notable honours included a CBE (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) for Professor Carole Hillenbrand OBE, Emerita Professor in Islamic History at the University of Edinburgh and Professor at the University of St Andrew’s, for services to the understanding of Islamic history.
Also made a CBE was Brendan McGuigan, the chief inspector of criminal justice in Northern Ireland, for services to justice in Northern Ireland.
Anne Bamford, formerly the director of education at the Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark, was awarded an OBE for services to education.
She was joined by Veronica Donovan, the Consultant Midwife for Foetal Medicine at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, for services to midwifery.
Catherine Duffy, the founder of RVH Liver Support Group, received an OBE for services to people with liver disease and their carers in Northern Ireland.
Professor Anne-Maree Keenan, the Assistant Director of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Leeds Biomedical Research Centre at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, was awarded an OBE for services to podiatry.
For services to the Catholic Church and to the Enga Province Community in Papua New Guinea, the Rev Fr Philip Gibbs was given an OBE.
And another OBE went to Professor Donal O’Donoghue, the Medical Director at Health Innovation Manchester, for services to kidney patients.
Catherine Mary Duffy, formerly Principal Solicitor at the Legal Services Department of Police Scotland, was made an MBE for services to law and order.
She was joined as an MBE by Dr Heather Dunn, for services to cardiac care in Northern Ireland and to voluntary service in Malawi.
Professor Vincent Gaffney, Anniversary Chair of Landscape Archaeology at the University of Bradford, was given an MBE for services to scientific research.
Another MBE went to Sarah Fiona Haughey, formerly Executive Director for Nursing and Quality at the Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust, for services to nursing.
Jennifer Anne Kehoe was also awarded an MBE for services to Paralympic Winter Olympic Sport.
Charles Eamonn Magee, the Principal of St Patrick’s and St Brigid’s Primary School and Nursery Unit, Ballycastle, was made an MBE for services to education.
For services to female entrepreneurs and to charity, another MBE went to Carole Anne McCarthy, the President of Cosmetic Executive Women UK.
Bernadette Michaelides was awarded an MBE for services to community nursing.
Zoe Murphy, a Border Force Officer at Heathrow Airport, was made an MBE for services to border security and humanitarian operations.
A British Empire Medal (BEM) was awarded to Malgorzata Kazimiera Goddard, the Executive Officer of the Polish Records Section at the Army Personnel Centre, for services to Defence and to the Polich veterans’ community.
Noreen Kavanagh was given a BEM for services to the community in Northern Ireland.
Geraldine O’Kane received a BEM for services to peace building and to community development in Whitewall, Northern Ireland.
A BEM went to Maureen Reilly, the Chair of the Lostock Community Partnership for services to the community in Lostock, Manchester.