Adoption UK trainer Bob Barnes has been presented with the British Empire Medal by the Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire Tim Stevenson, in a ceremony at Adoption UK’s headquarters in Banbury.

Bob, who was nominated for the BEM in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to adoption, has trained hundreds of adoptive parents and professional staff over 18 years.

Bob was joined at the ceremony by his wife Wyn and their adopted son Nicolas (pictured above, with Bob and the Lord Lieutenant), as well as dozens of Adoption UK colleagues - both past and present.

In a speech, Bob said: “Fifty years ago, just down the road in Oxford, I met Wyn and we married later that year. Then, in October 1980 we were matched to a very special blond-haired, blue-eyed boy and later that year Nicolas was placed with us.

“In October 1999 I applied to Adoption UK to become a trainer and in October the following year I was preparing to deliver my first training Piece of Cake (the charity’s parent support programme). Then, in October 2001, I joined the staff of Adoption UK. And here we are in Banbury in October 2018 - what is it about October?”

AUK's chief executive Dr Sue Armstrong Brown said: “Every family that we’ve helped, and every policy concession that we’ve won, boils down to Bob, in a room, sharing his insight and expertise with people who need him, and who leave the room feeling stronger, because he gave them his time. Bob’s dedication and quiet passion are the heart of Adoption UK.”

Bob lives near Carlisle so ordinarily he would have been presented with the BEM by the Lord Lieutenant of Cumbria Claire Hensman. But in a break from protocol, Mrs Hensman and Mr Stevenson both agreed to Bob’s request to instead be presented with the BEM at AUK’s HQ, in recognition of what he described as the “importance of this place to me and my work”. 

Guests at the presentation (which you can view by clicking on the image at the top of the page) also included Adoption UK’s first director Philly Morrall, who set up the charity's first office, which was in Northamptonshire.

I have no doubt that your time and dedication to the charity over so many years will have made a genuine difference to the hundreds of adoptive families and professional staff you have worked with for the past 18 years

Adoption UK's former director Hugh Thornbery CBE was unable to attend the ceremony, but in a message wrote: “From day one at my time at Adoption UK Bob engaged and supported me in my thinking and actions. He always took time to email me with his insights and views on key issues and was very encouraging. I thought his contribution to the adoption community was excellent and wide ranging.”

In a letter, Victoria Prentis, MP for Banbury, wrote: “I have no doubt that your time and dedication to the charity over so many years will have made a genuine difference to the hundreds of adoptive families and professional staff you have worked with for the past 18 years. Many congratulations on a well-deserved award.” 

Bob retired from his employed role with Adoption UK in July 2016, but continues his self-employed work as a trainer and parent consultant with AUK’s partner organisation PAC-UK, an independent adoption support agency.