David Thomas and Andy Mahoney, two Brits responsible for major endeavours in the Algarve, will be receiving MBE awards in 2021 after being included in The Queen’s 2021 New Year Honours list.
The MBE is awarded for an outstanding achievement or service to the community which has had a long-term, significant impact, according to The Gazette, the UK’s official public record.
David Thomas, president of Safe Communities Portugal and Safe Communities Algarve, and Andy Mahoney, the man behind Moncarapacho-based holiday centre for children with special needs Centre Algarve, have both spoken to the Resident about the huge significance of receiving this distinction.
“I was absolutely flabbergasted,” said Mahoney about the moment he was informed of the award by the British Ambassador to Portugal Christopher Sainty.
“I feel it is in recognition of everybody’s hard work and would like to thank everyone involved with Centre Algarve for all the great work they continue to put into it,” he added.
A man with a special link to the Eastern Algarve, Mahoney is the chairman of 24×7 Ltd Special Needs Holiday Trust, a UK-based charity which provides school transportation to several children with special needs.
“For many children with special needs, they find it impossible to take a holiday abroad,” said Mahoney, explaining the reasoning behind the creation of Centre Algarve.
“I purchased a property in Moncarapacho that could be developed to be mainland Europe’s first dedicated special needs holiday centre. With the help of Tom and Belinda Willis, who today run the centre, we started to develop the property utilising volunteers from all over the world,” he added.
Meanwhile, David Thomas spoke of the “honour” that he feels after receiving the distinction.
“It would not be so without the work of a great team at Safe Communities and the support of the community we serve. The fact that this is for work in Portugal shows the close collaboration that exists with the Portuguese government and reflects well on the support and encouragement that they have shown,” he added.
Safe Communities is a non-profit association providing a “one stop shop” of crime prevention and public information concerning security and safety.
But with the pandemic, its goal has also shifted to supporting the government in its efforts to provide “informed official information and advice to the population in order to help the community stay safe,” David told us.
“We provide such information in English and other languages for non-Portuguese speakers and visitors. We try, where possible, to clarify to people government information and advice, help with public enquiries (and there are many), liaise with government and embassies; counter misinformation and make proposals to government where we consider a need to do so,” he said.
Standing for Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, an MBE is the third highest ranking Order of the British Empire award (excluding a knighthood/damehood), behind CBE and then OBE.
By MICHAEL BRUXO