Belfast Telegraph

Walter gets Royal seal of approval for community work

by Chris McCann

An east Belfast man has been presented with the highly prestigious Queen’s OBE honour at Buckingham Palace.

Walter Rader, who grew up in the Bloomfield area and is director of the Big Lottery Fund in Northern Ireland, received the OBE for his services to the community in Northern Ireland.

He was presented with the award by the Princess Royal, Princess Anne, at an investiture in Buckingham Palace on Friday, July 2.

Walter was joined at the ceremony by his wife Sheila, mother-in-law Joan Cooke, who is from Bloomfield, and niece Jade Cooke, who is a pupil at Elmgrove Primary School in east Belfast.

Walter said: “It was a beautiful, sunny day and I was very proud to be awarded my OBE by Princess Anne.

“The Princess asked me about my work with communities in Northern Ireland and my time with the Big Lottery Fund. It was a wonderful day and a very humbling experience. I’m delighted to be honoured this way and I pay tribute to all my colleagues past and present. In my career I’ve had the opportunity to work with such dedicated people who are involved in projects that make a difference to communities across Northern |Ireland.”

Walter has spent over 30 years working with communities in Northern Ireland and has experience of both the statutory and voluntary/community sectors, as well as appointments with UK-wide organisations and through north/south (of Ireland) projects.

His career has certainly been one of firsts. During the 1980s Walter was closely associated with the BBC Youth programmes Unit in Belfast as a community service volunteer trainer for youth correspondents. He was one of the first staff members to work on the renowned Across the Line show.

Walter served as the first forces youth service officer for nine years, creating and developing youth service provision for the families of servicemen in Northern Ireland. And as director of Youthnet in Northern Ireland, he was also responsible for establishing the organisation as one of the first Intermediary Funding Bodies for the European Peace I programme, and he has experience of administering European funding streams.

Since 1999, Walter has been director of the Big Lottery Fund and its legacy organisations, and after 11 years in the role he will shortly be retiring from his position. He is now looking to the future and new challenges following his appointment as one of the five commissioners who will work on the new Charity Commission for Northern |Ireland.

“I feel very sad to be moving on. It’s been a wonderful 11 years here and it’s been great to see the development of Lottery funding.

“What I will really miss is getting out to see projects that are really making a difference to the lives of people in communities in Northern Ireland. I’m going to enjoy gardening and visiting the theatre and I’m looking forward to future challenges in life.”

East Belfast man Walter Rader has received the OBE at Buckingham Palace with his wife Sheila, mother-in-law Joan Cooke and niece Jade Cooke.

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