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Shankill parishioner Dessie awarded the BEM

Warmest congratulations to Dessie Gregg, a parishioner of Shankill Church Lurgan, who has been awarded the British Empire Medal in the 2019 New Year’s Honours List.

Dessie’s award is for services to the community of Craigavon, chiefly for his involvement with the Jethro Centre, Lurgan.

Jethro is a multi–purpose centre which serves all sections of the Lurgan community and is run by Shankill Parish Caring Association (SPCA). Dessie was Chair of SPCA for the first ten years after the centre opened, retiring only 18 months ago. He was an integral member of the team that saw the Jethro Centre through from inception to its completion and subsequent development.

Back in the late 90s when St Andrew’s Church Hall could no longer accommodate the growing range of activities and services required, and suitable modifications were not viable, the decision was made to replace it with a purpose–built centre. As a result ambitious plans for the Jethro Centre were developed.

“Right from the beginning, however, we knew that we didn’t want to put up a building to only serve the church activities,” says Dessie. “We wanted to see the building used to service the wider local community.”

Twelve years after its completion, Jethro still does just that, housing a large hall, a café and a range of rooms for meetings and other activities. Jethro is well used by people from all parts of the local community and further afield. It has also been the venue for the Down and Dromore Bible Week and Diocesan Synod.

Aged 74, Dessie has worshipped in Shankill Parish for almost 60 years and served on the vestry there under several rectors. After retiring from business he used his experience and expertise in many aspects of local voluntary work.

“I like to think of myself as a facilitator and encourager who likes working as part of a team and the development of Jethro has been a team affair from day one,” he says. “We have been blessed with great volunteers and it just so happened that I was the Chairman.

“Those were exciting and very busy times but looking back on the whole venture, all of us are proud and delighted to see the Jethro Centre so well used by everyone.”

Dessie’s BEM also recognises his work with the Rotary Club in Lurgan and Edenvilla Ltd in Portadown. He will collect his honour on 1 April at a ceremony in Hillsborough Castle.