Mayflower Family Centre
in Canning Town
for Rev David Sheppard
, England cricketer and later Bishop of Liverpool
In 1971 her work with prisons and prisoners began, initially through Langley House
, a Christian venture in the after-care of homeless offenders. In 1976 she started work for the Probation Service
, then Suffolk
During this time she met and married Bill Dodsworth
– Bill sadly died ten years later in 1992.
The citation described how Val, after retirement from the Probation Service, became a member of the chaplaincy team at Norwich Prison
and she became increasingly concerned about the welfare of prisoners after their release. Val decided to set up a home for the homeless, including ex-offenders, called the House of Genesis
, with a colleague Richard Mylott
. Initially she used her own home but then moved it to a larger property. Her goal was to make the house a real home rather than a hostel run by staff.
“As the guiding light for the charity, and leading from the front, Val has made a huge difference to the lives of residents,” the citation read.
“In addition to the House of Genesis, in 2006 Val also set up Street Pastors
in Norwich to help provide support to anyone in need on the streets.
“Val’s commitment and enthusiasm in helping other is unstinting, selfless and enduring. She is a most worthy recipient of this public recognition.”
Val decided to have a private ceremony in Norfolk rather than travel to Buckingham Palace
because she wanted to share the moment with those who know her and have worked with her and because she did not want to have to buy a new hat she joked.
She said: “Today has been a wonderful day and party and just amazing. My inspiration for the work has come from God who changed my life and has kept the House of Genesis going in reality. In the Bible in Hebrews we are told to not to forget to show hospitality to strangers for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it.
“I have been also very fortunate in the people God has allowed me to work with. David Sheppard at the Mayflower in the 60s, followed by John Dodd
in the 70s, the instigator of Langley House Trust, also some excellent Bible teachers and preachers, perhaps most notably David Middleton
who was at Surrey Chapel
for a lot of years. I guess God's teaching, inspiration and influence comes to us through people who are already learning from Him.”
Read our previous story on this topic.
Pictured top, from the left, is the High Sheriff of Norfolk Nicholas Pratt, the Lord-Lieutenant of Norfolk Richard Jewson, Val Dodsworth MBE and General the Lord Richard Dannatt.