The leader in charge of Pennyburn Youth Club has received his MBE from Queen Elizabeth in recognition of his work with young people.
Brendan Wilkinson, who has worked in the youth service for more than forty years, received his MBE at a presentation ceremony held recently at Buckingham Palace in London.
Brendan, better known as Brendy, thanked those who nominated him for the honour.
“It was a complete shock,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it when I was first told.
“I thought it was some kind of joke. I didn’t realise what I had done to deserve an MBE.”
“I’m just an ordinary, working class man from Derry who loves working with young people.”
Brendy paid tribute to a number of past leaders of Pennyburn Youth Club.
“I would like to thank, firstly, the founder leaders of the club - the late Jim Quinn, Gerry O’Kane, Mickey Tyre and Jack Doran who still sits on our committee.
“They inspired me all those years ago to take up a very rewarding career in youth work. I’d also like to pay tribute to my present staff team who are very deeply committed to this youth club.
“More importantly, without the young people coming through the doors of the youth club over the past forty years, I would not be in the position I am in today as leader in charge of such a highly recognised and respected organisation.”
Brendy, a father of five, also paid tribute to his family for their support over the years.
“My career as a youth worker has been challenging in both time and commitment over the years and, without my family’s dedication and understanding, I would never have got where I am today.”
Although he has come to call Derry his home, Brendan was born in the Killea townland of Imlick in Donegal in 1948.
The second eldest of 11 children, Brendan moved to Derry with the rest of the family when he was a young boy.
Brendan’s father, Willie, was from the Lecky Road and his mother Martha Deveney was from Killea.
The Wilkinsons moved from Killea to Springtown Camp where Brendan recalled warm summers spent playing football and having fun.
“Springtown Camp was a magical place to grow up, I loved it there,” he recalled in an interview with the Journal earlier this year.