Academic receives MBE from Her Majesty The Queen

Dr Simon Edwards, Senior Lecturer in Youth Studies, received his MBE from Her Majesty The Queen at a special investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle.

Dr Simon Edwards, with his MBE from Her Majesty The Queen.

He was awarded the MBE in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours for his services to youth work and education.

Dr Edwards MBE has spent many years working with young people who have been involved in crime, who have been excluded from school or who struggle generally with their teenage years. His research at the university focuses on pupils who no longer attend mainstream education and explores methods to re-engage them in studies.

On receiving the honour, Dr Edwards MBE said: “After a few tense days worrying about whether I’d make a fool of myself by tripping up or saying something daft to whoever presented the award to me, this was heightened when I was told an hour before the ceremony that Her Majesty the Queen would be presenting me with my MBE.

“For much of the time I was thinking ‘why am I getting this award’ then the moment came, following the guidance provided just before the ceremony I walked into the packed room of 200 family members of the recipients present, wheeled around to the first guard standing at the left edge of the platform on which the Queen was standing, stood left shoulder to his chest and on mention of my surname, took three steps forward, wheeled to the left and took three paces to stand in front of the Queen. She put me at ease immediately as she stepped forward to pin the MBE on a hook placed on my jacket chest. She asked a few questions and was kind and thoughtful, genuinely interested in my work with young people. She then smiled and congratulated me on the time I’d been doing this work for then shook my hand. I stepped back three paces, head bowed whilst she observed and I then wheeled off to the right.

“My wife and two daughters said it was like a fairy tale – the penny then dropped, I had just been honoured by the Queen for on behalf of my friends and colleagues who nominated me. That was why I was here – A sublime moment and one my family and I will cherish.”

Dr Edwards MBE has been lecturing at the University of Portsmouth for five years and has a background in youth work and teaching that spans 32 years. Before his research career, he worked in Brighton with excluded students and taught school pupils with special educational needs.

His current research sees him training some of these former excluded students and their parents as researchers. They assist his investigations and act as mentors for other families who have struggled to stay in mainstream education.

He also researches cyber bullying from a youth work perspective. Studies involve interviewing young people about their online behaviour. He said: “I’m very keen on presenting young people’s voices, which is largely overlooked in schools. When you talk to young people about what they do and how they understand the world, you get a very different story.”

He has written a book, Re-engaging Young People with Education: The Steps after Disengagement and Exclusion, published by Palgrave MacMillan.

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