Romford teacher recognised by Prime Minister for volunteer work that benefits people around the world
PUBLISHED: 13:00 26 July 2018
A special needs teacher from Romford has been recognised with an award for her volunteer work that has led to the creation of an international charity.
Geraldine O’Grady was selected for the Points of Light Award on Wednesday, July 25 for supporting students with developmental disabilities.
She said: “I can’t quite believe that what started off as some voluntary work in India led to the setting up of a charity that would go on to train more than 5,000 educators and therapists in 20 countries and reach 600,000 people.
“I was passionate about sharing skills and I am so proud that this led to so many more people being able to do the same.
“I am pleased and humbled and incredibly grateful that my work is being acknowledged in this way.”
The special needs teacher began travelling to India with the support of the Rangoonwala Foundation in 2008 to meet and train teachers how to work with children with special needs.
The impact of her work inspired the foundation to create the MATIS disability charity in order to deliver training to education and healthcare professionals across more countries.
With Geraldine as founding trustee, MATIS now operates in 21 countries and has trained more than 4,700 staff working in the disability sector, including therapists, nurses, doctors, special educators and staff working in children’s homes.
In a personal letter to Geraldine, Conservative prime minister Theresa May said: “Your decision to volunteer your skills in Indian special schools has done so much to support children with developmental disabilities to be able to access education.
“Your work inspired an entire charity and now, as a result of your ideas and energy, hundreds of thousands of people have benefitted across the world.”
Geraldine is one of six volunteers to be specially recognised to coincide with the world’s first ever Global Disability Summit which took place on July 24 at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford.
As part of the build-up to the summit Geraldine was invited to a roundtable hosted at the department for international development where she was also presented with her award.