Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has today recognised Fitzherbert Glen Niles, representing Trinidad and Tobago, as the 69th Commonwealth Point of Light in honour of his exceptional voluntary service to people with Down Syndrome and their families through the ‘Down Syndrome Family Network’.
Fitzherbert Glen Niles, is drawing on his own experience as a father of a child with Down Syndrome to transform the support available for other families.
When Fitzherbert’s son was born with Down Syndrome he felt isolated and taken aback by most people’s lack of knowledge about the condition.
He created the ‘Down Syndrome Family Network’ to advocate for the value, acceptance and inclusion of people with Down Syndrome, and equip families with the access to resources, support and information they needed to help their children to live full and active lives.
In six years he has grown the project into a flourishing network, with free quarterly workshops and skills training sessions, including occupational and speech therapy.
Every year Fitzherbert hosts an annual conference to coincide with the UN’s World Down’s Syndrome Day, inviting international speakers and government representatives to discuss inclusion and human rights, and providing a forum for parents to meet, share experiences and support each other.
As part of the legacy of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London 2018, Her Majesty The Queen - as Head of the Commonwealth - is thanking inspirational volunteers across the 53 Commonwealth nations for the difference they are making in their communities and beyond, by recognising one volunteer from each Commonwealth country each week in the two years following the summit.
By sharing these stories of service, the Commonwealth Points of Light awards celebrate inspirational acts of volunteering across the Commonwealth and help inspire others to make their own contribution to tackling some of the greatest social challenges of our time.
Each Commonwealth Point of Light will receive a personalised certificate signed by Her Majesty The Queen as Head of the Commonwealth. The award for Fitzherbert Glen Niles will be presented on Saturday 15th September from 2:30pm at the Down Syndrome Family Network Family Workshop by British High Commissioner, Tim Stew MBE.
The presentation will take place at the University of Trinidad and Tobago, Valsayn Campus.
Fitzherbert Glen Niles said:
“I am honoured to receive this award in recognition of my work as Chairman and Founder of the Down Syndrome Family Network. We advocate for the human rights of persons with Down Syndrome and other disabilities, not expecting any awards, but to bring about change in how society perceives persons with intellectual and other disabilities. I thank Her Majesty and the British High Commission in Trinidad and Tobago for recognising our efforts and I further commit to working towards an inclusive society. Opportunities truly reveal potential.”
Tim Stew MBE, UK High Commissioner in Trinidad and Tobago said:
“I am delighted to present Glen Niles with this honour on behalf of Her Majesty The Queen. Since he launched the Down Syndrome Families Network six years ago, Glen has created a world of new possibilities for people with Down Syndrome in Trinidad and Tobago. His investment in promoting their rights in Trinidad & Tobago has supported a welcome message of equality which I hope this Points of Light Award will help him spread further. There are many people who will be very proud of Glen and pleased to see him recognised through this award. I wish him all strength as he continues his good work.”
The Commonwealth is a diverse community of 53 nations that work together to promote prosperity, democracy and peace. The Heads of Government meeting brought together leaders from all the 53 Member countries to reaffirm common values, address shared global challenges and agree how to work to create a better future for all citizens, especially young people.
Voluntary service is a vital part of this agenda, which is why Her Majesty The Queen has chosen to recognise outstanding volunteers across the Commonwealth in this special way.