New Year’s Honour for social worker

Terry Prendergast
Terry Prendergast

A man who dedicated his life to helping vulnerable people has been awarded an OBE for services to families in the New Year Honours List.

Birstall-born Terence Prendergast was given the prestigious honour after spending his work life helping families cope with difficulties in their lives.

The 64-year-old, who now lives in London, said he initially had mixed feeling about accepting the award.

He said: “I was approached at the beginning of November and was asked if I was willing to be put forward.

“I feel personally I made a contribution but at the same time I was working with some really creative and clever people.

“I suppose accepting it was a reflection for their hard work as well, but it was odd to be nominated.”

Mr Prendergast left Birstall in his late teens to seek a career in the Catholic priesthood, but left before completing his training.

His desire to help people saw him hired by the Southwark Catholic Children’s Society to help vulnerable youngsters.

After spells with the London Borough of Hackney and the London Borough of Brent, Mr Prendergast took up the role of child guidance councillor and family therapist for the Inner London Education Authority.

In 1990 he worked for the Church of England Children’s Society, before joining Relate - an organisation which offers relationship and family counselling.

Mr Prendergast was appointed chief executive of Marriage Care in 2000, which provides relationship support and advice.

During his time, he successfully bid for ongoing national government funding and installed a national help line.

He retired from his post last March.

Mr Prendergast said: “The jobs were very rewarding.

“It is very special to see people turn their lives around.

“They would come into the room feeling they had nothing left for them but leave feeling they could change things around.

“In the later years, it was more rewarding for me working with people in the organisation and seeing them make a difference to people’s lives.”

Mr Prendergast said his mother and brothers, who still live in Birstall, were proud of his achievements.

He will receive his medal at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace later this year.