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Philomena Mendonca

31 December 2004
The Queen’s New Year Honours List
MBE: Maria Philomena Mendonca, teacher, Sacred Heart Roman Catholic School, Peterborough, services to education.

31 December 2004
NEW YEAR HONOURS : From a refugee to an MBE for teacher

A TEACHER who was thrown out of her country 30 years ago has received a top honour from the Queen.

Philomena Mendonca (61), now a teacher in Peterborough, is one of a host of local people to receive gongs today in The Queen's Birthday Honours list.

Mrs Mendonca was one of 60,000 Asians ordered to leave Uganda by the tyrannical president, Idi Amin, in 1972.

She came to England with her husband and two children before settling in Peterborough.

She has been working as a teacher at Sacred Heart Primary School, in Bretton, since 1974.

Today, after hearing that she had become a Member of the British Empire (MBE) for her services to education, Mrs Mendonca, of Holdfield, Ravensthorpe, said: "I really feel honoured to receive this. It's wonderful. I feel that I owe my parents and all the people who have touched my life.

"It's been a struggle coming to a new country, but the people who I work with and who live near us have become like a family."

Also honoured was Chris Stevenson, a former Peterborough detective who led the investigation which snared double child murderer Ian Huntley.

Mr Stevenson (54) joined the investigation into the deaths of 10-year-olds Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in August 2002 – and three days later Huntley was arrested.

During his 20 years in Peterborough, Mr Stevenson worked on high- profile murder cases, including the shooting of Amanda Letch and the killing of Scott Kisbee (25).

He also led an inquiry into crimes committed by former Cambridgeshire police custody sergeant Paul Banfield, who was convicted of two rapes, an indecent assault and burglary with intent to rape in 2000. He was jailed for 22 years.

Mr Stevenson today pledged the award of the Queen's Police Medal to every member of staff he had worked alongside.

He said: "I am extremely honoured to receive the Queen's Police Medal in the New Year Honours List and I accept it on behalf of every single member of the investigation team who were involved in the successful investigation of the Soham murders as well as every officer and member of police staff who I have been privileged to work alongside during my career."

Former Peterborough City Councillor Nazim Khan was also honoured, becoming a MBE for his work in the community.

Mr Khan, from Millfield, Peterborough, has been recognised in particular for the leadership he has shown and his services to the diverse communities in Peterborough.

One of his major achievements was the establishment of Gladstone Sure Start in 1999.

He is the founding chair of Gladstone Connect, which is implementing ambitious plans to improve health, education and housing for the benefit of all residents living in Central ward.

He said: "I am absolutely delighted to receive this award from Her Majesty and believe this will encourage myself and others to continue to work for a neighbourhood which is both proud and positive."

Sarah Aiton, the fiancée of Peterborough-born windsurfer Nick Dempsey, was made an MBE for services to sailing. Aiton was part of a gold-medal winning crew at the Athens Olympics.

More awards
Other people honoured include:

  • Elsie Marina Bright, the captain of the 1st Spalding Company of the Girls' Brigade, who became a MBE for her services to young people.
  • Thakorbhai Mistry, who became an MBE for his services to the community in Alconbury.
  • Wilfred Alec Osborn, chairman of the governors at Deacon's School, in Queen's
    Gardens, Peterborough, who became a MBE for his services to education.
  • David Heather,
    the former deputy chief executive of the Agricultural Industries Confederation, who became an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) for his services to the fertiliser industry.
  • Crossword
    compiler The Rev John Galbraith Graham, from Huntingdon, who became a MBE for his services to the news-paper industry.

06 January 2005
HONOUR: Back to school for teacher to celebrate her MBE
Teacher Philomena Mendonca is cheered by Sacred Heart pupils, when she returned to school for a special assembly and showed off her letter from the Queen.

TEACHER Philomena Mendonca returned to Sacred Heart Primary School for a special assembly after receiving an award in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.

Mrs Mendonca (61) became a Member of the British Empire (MBE) for her services to education. She has taught at the school in Tollgate, Bretton, Peterborough, for three decades, after settling in the city in 1974.

Mrs Mendonca celebrated with her pupils and fellow teachers at the school yesterday, and headteacher Andrea Togher said the popular member of staff was dedicated and committed.

She added: "This has made history at the school, and that was a great feeling for everyone at yesterday's assembly.

"Mrs Mendonca said when she received the letter asking her if she wished to accept her MBE, she thought about her parents and all the people she had taught over the years.

"She accepted the MBE on behalf of all those people.

"It gave us a great sense of living up to her MBE and it is such an honour."

Mrs Mendonca was one of 60,000 Asians ordered to leave Uganda by the tyrannical president, Idi Amin, in 1972.

She came to England with her husband and two children before settling in Peterborough.

22 Mar: Royal Mrs Philomena Mendonca MBE receiving her award from HM The Queen in the Ballroom of Buckingham Palace.

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