Anglo-Irish Foreign correspondent with BBC News and author
Familiar to millions for his heartfelt dispatches from war-torn regions across the world, award winning BBC foreign correspondent, Fergal Keane, is set to channel some of his awareness raising communication skills into matters closer to home, as he steps up to the role of Patron for Cricklewood based charity, Ashford Place.
Born in London, though raised in Dublin and later Cork, Fergal Keane has long shared a special affinity with Cricklewood, a community whose strong Irish connection owes its roots to the wave of economic migrants settling there from across the sea in search of better prospects back in the 1970’s. While more widely known for covering stories abroad, from the Rwanda Genocide to conflict in the Middle East, he is a reporter who doesn’t shy away from showing compassion in his writing, adding a distinctly human touch as powerfully exemplified in his passionate 1996 Letter to Daniel: Dispatches from the Heart, still today considered a benchmark in the long running BBC Radio Four series, From Our Own Correspondent.
Drawn to the charity since during the construction phase of its Cricklewood based Centre over ten years ago, Fergal Keane has been a long-time admirer and champion of Ashford Place. Far beyond serving the social needs of its Irish community, the organisation today provides critical round the clock support to the most marginalised in society, offering practical long term solutions to crises ranging from homelessness and substance misuse to mental health, dementia and social isolation, and all the while giving voice and hope to a demographic mix whose individual human stories come from all over the world.
Fergal Keane’s new role as official Patron coincides with major initiatives that Ashford Place is currently delivering e.g. a Dementia Peer Support Service, a pioneering scheme that places those with the lived experience of the condition at the centre of supporting others similarly diagnosed. Similarly our Independent Lifestyles Project is a five year Big Lottery funded project that utilises the lived experience of our Peer Support Network to help those in crisis. The first of many projects to take shape under his patronage, the multi-award winning journalist and writer looks forward to drawing more and more attention to the charity and its activities for years to come.
Commenting on the appointment, Keane is quick to convey his enthusiasm "A pulse of hope and humanity in the beating heart of London’s Cricklewood, Ashford Place is so much more than meets the eye. Embedded firmly within the community, this vibrant and tireless charity is an active and essential lifeline to people struggling in the margins of our society. For the dispossessed, homeless people and those with drug and alcohol misuse, as well as for those facing a daily battle with dementia and mental health, a comprehensive measure of practical help is offered, without judgment and with a unique emphasis on peer to peer support that empowers clients to take back control of their own lives. As a long-time resident of Brent, I am tremendously proud to be a Patron of Ashford Place and look forward to championing all the inspiring work it does for many more years to come."