Trust colleague Ivora Ferreira-Bean awarded MBE

Published: 4th Jun 2024

Two weeks ago, Ivora visited Windsor Castle to receive her MBE from Prince William. We sat down with her to learn all about the experience...

On Wednesday 22 May 2024, our colleague Ivora Ferreira-Bean was invited to Windsor Castle to receive an MBE from Prince William.

Ivora has worked for Birmingham City Council and Birmingham Children’s Trust for 38 years — itself an incredible achievement — and received the honour for her service to children and families.

Now a Trust Team Manager for Ladywood in Early Help and Prevention, Ivora continues her tireless charity work alongside her professional career.

We caught up with Ivora last week to find out what it's like to receive an Order of the British Empire…

When did you first find out about your MBE?

“I found out in November. It was a bit of a mad day. We had driven to see my son at university in Cardiff so I was quite tired when I came home. And I remember saying to my husband Tony: 'I’m just going to get in, have a bath and chill out'.

"When I was going up the stairs, I noticed there was all this mail and I thought bills, bills, bills. But when I picked one up it said On His Majesty’s Service. I swear to God, I thought it was for jury service. I said ‘Tony, you need to read this letter’.

"He read it and we both just looked at each other and burst out laughing. I went, ‘where has this come from!?’.

"But we couldn’t tell anybody because the letter is very clear about what you can and cannot say. We had to pretend everything was normal.

"It was actually a really difficult time for me in December because my dad had then become end of life. But I did tell him before he passed away. It was bittersweet — I was focusing on other things.”

What was the day at Windsor Castle like?

“We got a letter back in March to say that it would be held at Windsor Castle (rather than Buckingham Palace) and it gave you a list of protocols. Things you can and can’t wear, what you can and can’t do, things you can say and all the rest of it.

"They’re very thorough with their checks. You have to tell them what car you are going to drive. Then when we were there they checked the vehicle, went into the engine, took everything out of the boot… it was very meticulous.

"But it was a really, really nice day and they treated us really, really well.

"I’ll just put it this way: if your necklace wasn’t straight or you had a little thread on your dress that was out of place, somebody would notice it and come and give you that attention.

"And I found that quite weird [laughing]. I’ve never experienced anything like it. 

"But Windsor Castle, for those who haven't been, is an awesome experience. I don't know which rooms are open to the public but I would definitely recommend a visit." 

An aerial photograph of Windsor Castle

What did you speak to Prince William about?

“The award was given to me by Prince William and we talked about four things.

"The first was Birmingham Children’s Trust. We spoke about the pressures that I feel we are under, the fact that most days we deal with things that are sad, and the lack of resources and funding — how the government doesn’t really understand what families are going through.

“We then had a conversation about two of the charities I am a trustee for, Handsworth Association of Schools and Lakis Greek Kitchen, who I do a food programme with.

"Every year we do fundraising. We’re doing it at the moment. I told the Prince we’re raising money for a little boy who’s three years old. He has acute sensory needs, autism, a brain tumour and cannot walk unaided. So we’re creating a room in his house so that his parents can bring him home from the hospital.

"Last year we did the same thing, also for a child with a brain tumour. He died, but the money raised went towards his funeral and we arranged for all the funeral directors to come in character as his favourite superheroes. The year before that we raised £10,000 to get a young person who was stuck in hospital out, because she needed a wheelchair. So I told him about those fundraisers.

"And the last thing I spoke to Prince William about was Aston Villa, because my boys are massive Villa fans. He even broke protocol to give them a thumbs up."

How did your family find it? 

"They had a great day. They all came with me, my husband Tony and two sons, Alex and Andre.

“It was very surreal. I used to put on careers fairs at the NEC (National Exhibition Centre), I’ve done lots of public speaking and I’ve done training in conferences and stuff like that, but I’ve never experienced anything like it. I was nervous, I’m not going to lie. I was a little bit nervous.”

“My oldest son is an actor, so he’s not fazed. He was encouraging me, you know, saying ‘Mom, it’s going to be alright. Just relax man'. And my sons are of the Instagram generation, so they posted stuff on social media.

"I have had something like 400 comments just on Facebook alone. They’ve come from Nigeria, from Jamaica, from America, from Canada… There have been so many and I’m surprised how far it has gotten.

"I don't think I'll ever experience anything like that again."

Ivora is just one example of the many people working at Birmingham Children's Trust who create lasting, positive change across the city for its children, young people and families. 

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