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Thursday 28 March 2024

Women’s History Month: Pride in progression

As Women’s History Month draws to a close, we celebrate our extraordinary women members and their achievements. Customs Fraud Lead Pru Orridge received an MBE last year for her services to diversity. In her own words, Pru shares her feelings about being nominated, receiving the award and how her union has supported her great work.

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I’m Prudencia Orridge. But please call me Pru. I was born and grew up in Tanzania, where most of my family still live, but I have lived in the UK – in Wales – for a long time. I work for HMRC in the Fraud Investigation Service. Up until recently I was also HMRC’s Race Lead for Wales, which means I support Black, Asian and other colleagues from an ethnic minority background in their career development and work to promote race equality in HMRC and the wider civil service. I’ve done lots of presentations and Viva Engage posts about race equality and Black history. 

I was thrilled to hear that I had been nominated for an MBE. What made it very special was that I was nominated by colleagues for my services to diversity. That my colleagues felt that I deserved recognition for work that is very important to me is just wonderful. Of course, my family are absolutely delighted too, which is also very important to me. What I didn’t expect was the reaction from the Tanzanian community in the UK and back home. I have been overwhelmed with messages of congratulation and many have been kind enough to say that they are proud, and that it reflects well on Tanzania. That’s great to hear, as I am very proud of my roots. I even had a song produced especially for me. A band from Tanzania called ‘Swax All Stars’ recorded a song called Prudencia Kimiti after I was awarded my MBE. I actually had it played it for me live in a football stadium when I visited Tanzania.

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Of course, the day I actually received the MBE was amazing. My investiture was at Windsor Castle, and it was fabulous to see the inside of such a magnificent and historic building. I splashed out on a tailored outfit, which made me feel great, although I don’t usually wear hats. Everyone involved in the day was so helpful and friendly and made it a wonderful experience.  My parents flew in from Tanzania and it was very special to have them with me. Many others waited outside and came to a great after-party. The thing I remember most was receiving my medal from the Princess Royal. Princess Anne put me at my ease, and we even shared a laugh.

I know it’s a cliché, but I genuinely feel that the award is not just for me. So many people have helped me in my career and in the work I do, and I see the award as recognising their work too. These amazing colleagues include some fantastic managers and my long-term mentor. FDA Learn has been an important part of that work too. I was delighted to be able to call on FDA Learn’s resources to organise help for colleagues from ethnic minority backgrounds in applying for jobs. I know it was gratefully received, and I think it’s fantastic that the FDA is willing to reach out and offer help in this way.  

Although I am no longer the Race Lead for HMRC in Wales, I am still working on diversity issues and I look forward to a continuing relationship with FDA Learn in advancing everyday inclusion. 

 

An extended version of this article will be published in the forthcoming issue of Public Services Magazine. 

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