Royal honour for Chair of Hazelwood Integrated College Board of Governors

Trevor Parkhill was awarded an MBE in the Queen's birthday honours. Pic by Brian Little, Presseye
Trevor Parkhill was awarded an MBE in the Queen's birthday honours. Pic by Brian Little, Presseye

The Chairman of Hazelwood Integrated College’s Board of Governors has received an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Trevor Parkhill, who helped to co-found the school thirty years ago, received the award for Services to Education in Northern Ireland.

He has sat on Hazelwood Integrated College’s Board of Governors for twenty years, and has been chair since 1999.

The former Belfast Royal Academy teacher said he was “very proud” to receive the acknowledgement, which he says is a testament to the collective hard work of those who founded Hazelwood Primary School and Hazelwood Integrated College.

“I was greatly chuffed and I thought immediately of all those parents and staff who had put their lives on the line with no guarantee of success in order to create a better Northern Ireland,” he revealed.

“Hazelwood Primary was opened in 1985 by Barry McGuigan and I helped to found both it and Hazelwood Integrated College with a group of parents.

“I accepted the MBE on behalf of all the dedicated parents who in the 1980s, during a difficult time after the Anglo-Irish Agreement, helped to find the premises and attract dedicated staff.

“In the beginning we were expertly led by Jo Mulvenna, our development officer, as well as the first Chair of Hazelwood Primary Brendan Fulton and my wife Sheila, who was Secretary of the Primary School Board of Governors.

“This year it is the 30th anniversary of the Hazelwood initiative, so this is a recognition of everyone’s contribution to the Hazelwood experiment.

The Head of the school’s Board of Governors, whose own children were educated at the establishments, says that the school provides an invaluable experience for its pupils.

“With Hazelwood, children can come in to nursery and spend all of their time in integrated education until they leave for university,” he explained.

Trevor, who also worked as an archivist at the public record office and as a keeper of history at the Ulster Museum, retired in 2012.

However, he says that he is proud to see how the Hazelwood schools have gone from strength to strength, leaving a positive legacy for the area.

“Looking at the school now I feel a great sense of pride, in fact I feel more pride when I hear what people say about it.

“They are always impressed by the achievements of the pupils, the facilities, the teaching staff and the mutually respectful atmosphere of the school whether pupils are Catholic, protestant or from other groups,” he concluded.

Trevor is now looking forward to travelling to Buckingham Palace to receive his gong.

Also recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List was Valerie Haugh, who was formerly the Head of the Peripatetic Support Service, at Belfast Education and Library Service.

The Straid woman received an MBE for Services to Education.