Broch woman in New Year’s Honours list

Sonia Ritchie-Park has been awarded the British Empire Medal.
Sonia Ritchie-Park has been awarded the British Empire Medal.

A woman who is originally from Fraserburgh has been awarded the British Empire Medal in the New Year’s Honours list.

Sonia Ritchie-Park, who now lives in Sunderland, was awarded the honour for her fund-raising efforts and work with homeless people.

Sonia Ritchie-Park has been awarded the British Empire Medal.

Sonia Ritchie-Park has been awarded the British Empire Medal.

Sonia was responsible for setting up the Tenancy Award which has now received accreditation and support from housing schemes.

The 34-year-old is heavily involved with the work of Swan Lodge which, because of her efforts, has become a centre of excellence for training and learning for homeless people.

Sonia has implemented a 12-week qualification which focuses on life skills and tenancy skills - including gardening, cooking and budgeting.

The qualification - which is recognised nationally by the Open College Network - has seen a success rate of 100%, with 90% of successful residents moving into their own homes.

As well as developing a qualification, Sonia has also identified employment and training opportunities for homeless people and, this year alone, has secured more than £60,000 for learning at Swan Lodge.

Originally from the Broch, Sonia went to Southpark School and still has family in Fraserburgh.

Sonia has lived in Sunderland for 20 years but says she still thinks of Fraserburgh as home.

Commenting on being awarded the honour, Sonia said: “I felt shocked but once the shock passed I felt very humbled because there are so many people who do so much good work every day - including people who work with homeless people, firefighters and others.

“My plan for the future is to keep working with homeless people, I love it.”