Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland Prison officers involved in family project receive Royal recognition

By Claire Williamson

Two Northern Ireland prison officers were praised for their "dedication and commitment" as they were presented with a national award by the Princess Royal.

John Bell and Neil Rippon received a prestigious commendation from the Butler Trust at St James's Palace in London.

They were nominated by a prisoner and received the award for their commitment to the Family Matters project, an initiative with Barnardo's NI, which brings hope, trust, and reconciliation for fathers in prison and their families.

After the presentations, the princess talked to John and Neil, and other winners, over afternoon tea in the palace's state rooms.

Ronnie Armour, the head of the Northern Ireland Prison Service, was among those in the audience.

He said: "John and Neil have brought great honour to the Northern Ireland Prison Service and are very deserving of this commendation."

Maghaberry governor David Kennedy said: "John and Neil have been architects in helping to mould the Family Matters project.

"This project has gained widespread acclaim for its efforts in reducing reoffending, challenging people and supporting them to change and providing a new and innovative way to motivate offenders and to show them a better road to take when they're released."

Belfast Telegraph

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