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Drop Inn Ministries founder and first responders chairperson among King’s Birthday Honours

Ronald Dawson and Aidan Early

The founder of Drop Inn Ministries has been awarded an OBE at the King’s Birthday Honours for services to fundraising and charity.

Ronald Dawson founded the charity in Richhill in 1994 after he saw a need in the area to keep young people away from drug and alcohol abuse.

Starting out from humble beginnings with a small drop-in centre in the village, the charity now boasts over 30 branches today in Northern Ireland and beyond.

Through their ministry and outreach, these branches help bring hope and aid to many countries across the world that need it.

And now, Ronnie’s hard work has been recognised after it was announced today he would be appointed as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).

His was one of only a handful of OBEs granted across Northern Ireland.

Also receiving an award was Aidan Early, the Chairperson of Community First Responders Armagh and Tyrone (CFRAT).

He has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the King’s Birthday Honours for voluntary service to the community in Northern Ireland.

He helped form the group in 2015 – spurred on by the late Brendan McAnallen, who wanted to improve responsive defibrillator use in rural areas following the tragic death of his son Cormac in 2004 from an undetected heart condition.

The organisation is made up of a group of volunteers who are trained and equipped to respond to medical emergencies.

Starting off small, the group concentrated on the areas of Benburb, Tullysaran, Blackwatertown and Eglish.

As it began to grow, they expanded out to Armagh, Richhill and even as far up to Lurgan.

Following a successful application to the Big Lottery fund, the group were able to set about a growth and expansion plan for the service, with the aim of having 100 volunteers within the area they cover.

Working in conjunction with Northern Ireland Ambulance Services (NIAS) to help respond to 999 calls, the team of volunteers are alerted should their skills match the emergency.

Speaking to Armagh I last year, Aidan said: “Our purpose is to get to the scene as quickly as possible in order to sustain the person’s life until the emergency services arrive. This is achieved by training and equipping responders in the local area.

“Once a 999 call is received by the emergency services, our responders are activated via text explaining what and where the emergency is.

“There are delays as everyone knows in the ambulance service, there has always been delays, not as extreme as they are now.

“The idea of community responders was really for rural areas where there is an inbuilt geographic delay.”

Other local recipients include Richard David McClune, who was awarded a BEM for voluntary service to police and military welfare in Co. Armagh and Ellen Laura Barnett, a volunteer at St Saviour’s Church in Craigavon, awarded a BEM for services to the community.

The full list of the King’s Birthday Honours for Northern Ireland can be viewed here.

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