Queen's Birthday honours for Baptists
A paediatric cardiologist and a minister were among the Baptists recognised in this year’s Queen’s birthday honours list
Dr Connor Mulholland, OBE
Dr Connor Mulholland, consultant paediatric cardiologist, Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children and lately trustee of the charity the Children’s Heartbeat Trust was awarded the OBE for services to healthcare in Northern Ireland.
“It was quite a surprise, out of the blue,’ Connor, a deacon Wallingford Baptist Church Oxfordshire, told The Baptist Times. ‘I’ve been retired from the health service since 2003!’
His long career featured a three year secondment (1969-71) in Punjab, India with BMS World Mission. In 1976 he was appointed the very first dedicated Paediatric Cardiologist in Belfast. The early years of his work "were devoted to stabilising and making an accurate diagnosis in many ill infants and older children with heart disease," according to this summary on the Children’s Heartbeat Trust website.
In 1983 he had the vision to encourage parents to form a support group called Heartbeat and he became a founder trustee. One of Heartbeat’s first public roles was to successfully lobby Stormont Officials to create a second Consultant Post in Paediatric Cardiology which was appointed in 1986.
In 2003 Dr Mulholland was appointed Chairman of the Trustees of Heartbeat and was instrumental in appointing a full time Executive Officer and overseeing a change of name to the Children’s Heartbeat Trust, to reflect the aims and work of the charity.
When he stepped down as the charity’s chair in 2015, his fellow director and former colleague, Paediatric Cardiologist Dr Brian Craig, said, ‘Throughout three decades Dr Mulholland has encouraged, supported and led the charity through times of political uncertainty and periods of financial austerity in Health Service funding.
'His voice has at all times been one of reason and he has never failed to support those for whom the charity exists – children and young people with heart disease and their families.’
Connor said he has received great satisfaction in his work. ‘It was as though the job was made for me – and God has been with me through the whole of it, through the ups and downs. Christ’s community have been very supportive, very much part of my back up.’ Connor and wife Sandra moved to Oxfordshire from Belfast in 2011 to be closer to their children.
The Revd Neil Roberts, BEM
Neil Roberts, minister of Chelmsley Wood Baptist Church in the West Midlands, was awared the British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to the community in Chelmsley Wood and North Solihull.
The Other Side of Solihull blog, describing Neil as 'a well-known member of the local community', highlighted how in recent years Neil has helped drive the refurbishment of the church's Three Trees Community Centre. He has also been heavily involved in the debate about the North Solihull Regeneration.
In 2013 he was one of the leading voices in the ultimately successful campaign to rechristen Craig Croft as Chelmund's Cross.
Neil said, ‘It was a surprise and really is a recognition of what we have all achieved together as a church and community. The church has worked hard to make the community centre, now called Three Trees, a real centre of community life and beacon of hope and love for our area.
'We still have a way to go but this is a great encouragement along the way and celebrates all that the church and community have done so far.’