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Royal recognition for couple’s 25 years of dedication to adoption

Published: 20.05.15

A couple who have been long serving volunteers as joint coordinators for Adoption UK for a quarter of a century recently attended the Queen’s Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.
Royal recognition for couple’s 25 years of dedication to adoption

Pat McKearney, aged 75, and her husband Hugh, 77, said they felt “honoured” to have been nominated by Adoption UK to attend the party in recognition of their dedication to the charity.

The monarch was joined by the Duke of Edinburgh, the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Earl and Countess of Wessex and about 8,000 other guests at the palace on 12th May.

Pat and Hugh, who are originally from Ireland but now live in Maidstone, have two adopted children and have one foster child who is a full sister to one of their adopted children and a birth child, who are now all adults. They are both Adoption UK coordinators for Kent.

Pat, who also sits on adoption and fostering panels, said: “The few photos we have of the memorable day will help assist fading memories in old age of the once in a lifetime event.

“It was a fantastic, lovely sunny day and we thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Hugh said: “The grounds are vast, a mere 44 acres with a manicured lawn and there’s a three-acre lake. But the most impressive thing was being able to see parts of Buckingham Palace that others will never see and being so close to the Royal Family.

“Pat was highly delighted about the nomination. She has been very supportive, over the last 25 years, to our adopted children and others, through her voluntary work with Adoption UK.”

Hugh said he was a great admirer of the Queen and Prince Philip.

He added: “As an Irishman some people may think it odd that I support the Royal Family but I’ve been in the UK for 57 years and this is the country that gave me a job and a life.”

The couple adopted their first son Declan, who is now aged 46 and works as a policeman. They then had their birth daughter Tara, now aged 45, who works as a nutritional therapist. Their foster daughter Catherine, now 38, is a nun in Serbia. Their other adopted daughter Gillian, now aged 33, works as a solicitor in London. 

Pat and Hugh were nominated to attend the event by Lucy Vincent, Director of External Affairs at Adoption UK.

Explaining why she chose the couple, Lucy said: “They came to my attention for all the great work they have been doing for Adoption UK over the years – from sitting in the kitchen when PPIAS (the origination of Adoption UK today) was first formed, to running support groups, to adopting their own children. They are quietly understated and yet hundreds of adopted children and families have benefitted from the guidance and experience they’ve shared with others.”