Patricia Holland ‘a truly remarkable person’ is presented with her BEM
A LONG-SERVING local volunteer has been presented with the British Empire Medal (BEM) in recognition for her life-changing relief work in Romania.
Patricia Holland was awarded the BEM in this year’s New Year Honours List for charitable service to Guernsey and Romania.
For more than 20 years, Mrs Holland has worked with local charity Friends of Romania and has seen tonnes of food, clothing and other essentials transported by road from Guernsey to the town of Bistrita in northern Transylvania.
‘Growing up in a Methodist home and being a Girl Guide put the charitable inspiration in me from an early age,’ she said.
‘As time goes on it falls to you which causes you will choose to support.
‘I am grateful for the people around me, my close friends and family, who I cannot only share this experience with but who have helped me and supported me.’
On her first visit to Romania, Mrs Holland devised a plan with several of the local women to create a Romanian sister charity, Tabita, to access the most needy.
She then developed that partnership to match Guernsey with Romanian families, building an aid supply chain that now links second generations of families.
The Guernsey charity’s donors have also funded university tuition for many young Romanians.
As chairman of the Guernsey Council of Churches, Mrs Holland was also instrumental in fostering reconciliation with Biberach, home of the German camp to which many islanders were deported during the Occupation.
Mrs Holland undertook several visits to the Bavarian town with her husband, Wilf, where she developed lasting friendships.
For more than 40 years Mrs Holland has also been closely involved in Christian Aid Guernsey and worked extensively with the adoption charity Norcap, reuniting families separated at birth, and continued this work independently after that charity was disbanded.
Lt-Governor Vice Admiral Sir Ian Corder said the British Empire Medal was the most significant award that can be presented at Government House, and one of his favourites.
‘It is awarded for meritorious service worthy of recognition by the Crown and Mrs Holland is living proof that an islander with vision, compassion and determination can bring positive change to the lives of people living on the other side of Europe.
‘Her faith and humanity have also helped to heal fractured families and to rebuild Guernsey’s relationship with Germany – it’s fair to say that she is a truly remarkable person and an outstanding ambassador for the Bailiwick.’