TWO local women have received special recognition awards from the Queen for their contribution to life and the community across Fermanagh.
The well-known Toni Johnston continues to dedicate her life to help others.
A former teacher at the High School, Toni has been actively involved in art exhibitions throughout the county, from 1969 to the present day, and she is a key organiser of the annual Fermanagh Live event.
On Monday, Toni received an MBE from Lord Brookeborough for her contribution to arts, culture and education.
The 82-year-old feels very privileged to have received this special accolade.
“It was a lovely, lovely occasion. It was relaxed and he [Lord Brookeborough] was in uniform but the rest of us were nicely dressed.”
The celebration took place at Colebrook House, at the request of Toni, who wanted as many of her family members to be present for the award ceremony as possible.
Following the awards ceremony, the guests were treated to refreshments by Lord Brookeborough.
“The fact that it was so relaxed was very nice, said Toni. “It was a very warm occasion, and in my opinion, it was much better than going somewhere where you are almost anonymous.”
The modest Toni is quick to add that the MBE award “changes nothing.”
“It’s just letters on the end of your name, but I feel very special to have been selected and receive a personal letter from the Queen.
“I have it at home.
“It is beautiful. The whole thing is a great honour and very unexpected.”
Toni’s daughter Rachael said, “Those who know her will know that mum is a force to be reckoned with when she is on a mission, and it never ceases to amaze us how much passion and energy she brings to the table when she is engaged in something she believes in.
“It is such a heartwarming experience and a privilege to be alongside someone you love as they are celebrated by so many wonderful people for their creativity, joie de vivre and determination in collaboration with friends and colleagues to make a positive difference in the community where we belong.”
Toni is keen to continue helping out in the Fermanagh community in whatever way that she can.
Toni was joined by Lizzie Keys, a modern-day hero who hails from Trillick.
Just over 20 years ago, Lizzie was involved in an accident, suffering damage to her spine and was left paralysed at 19-years-old.
Despite her life being changed dramatically, Lizzie has worked with the PSNI Road Safety Roadshow team and tells the story of her accident to packed school halls in the hope of making people more aware of the dangers of driving on the roads.
Lizzie received a BEM special recognition award.
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