Charity fundraiser vows to keep going after OBE honour

·2-min read

A veteran charity fundraiser has said he has no intention of stopping after being made an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Noel McKee, 54, from Whitehead, Co Antrim, has helped raise more than £1 million for good causes.

He has been made an OBE for his services to charity in Northern Ireland, having been previously made an MBE two decades ago.

Mr McKee worked as a firefighter for more than 30 years, which is where he first became involved in charity work.

He said: “I got involved with our benevolent fund. I started by selling merchandise and then got more involved in different bits of charity work. Then I started doing fundraising for that and it all kind of spiralled from there.

“Whenever you are standing in fire uniform or with an engine people tend to come over to say hello and to support what you are doing.

“Everything I did over the years I made sure it was all local, that local charities, local places benefited from it.”

Mr McKee left the Fire Service four years ago and now works as a counsellor but has kept up his charity efforts.

He said: “I am chair of the local foodbank, I run community events and a music and mind festival. I like helping people.

“It is never an individual effort. I would just try to bring people together and come up with ideas but they are pointless unless you have got the right people behind you to help you out.

“I would also like to pay tribute to my wife Gillian, who has put up with a lot over the years.

Mr McKee told how receiving the news about his OBE was bittersweet.

He said: “The letter arrived on the Friday, it was quite emotional because my mum had died on the Tuesday.

“My dad died in January. It was tinged with sadness. I thought how good would that be if they had been here?

“When I was made an MBE 20 years ago my dad was just so chuffed.

“It would have been lovely if they had been around for this because I was able to take them to the palace last time and it was something they could never have envisaged.”

Mr McKee added: “The buzz you can get from doing something for someone else or an organisation with no suggestion of anything back in return – to do something for nothing gives you such a great feeling.

“People miss out; doing something for someone for nothing, for me that is where the sense of proper happiness comes from. It is very simple, just doing random acts of kindness for people.

“I have been doing it for so long and there are plenty more projects. I am not stopping yet.”

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