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‘Treat people well and never look back’

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

‘Treat people well and never look back’ thumbnailJEROME Mullen receives the The Greater Newry Diaspora Award.

FIFTY years of tirelessly working within the community saw Jerome Mullen receive this year's Diaspora Award at the Greater Newry Business Awards on Thursday night.

The Polish Consul for Northern Ireland seemed genuinely taken aback and surprised, as Buttercrane Shopping Centre Manager, Peter Murray, called out his name from the podium and handed over the award to a man he described as a "mentor".

Mr Mullen, who originally hailed from Mount Nugent, Co. Cavan, came to Newry in November 1967 after spending eight years working in London,  described the values and ethics that drive him.

"There's no better recognition to get than recognition from the community that you live in,it's a wonderful honour, and I'm so happy to receive it," he said.

"Treat people well, because if you can do that, it will come back to you in return. Treat people well and work hard and you'll never look back. Once the boss or a big company sees that you're working hard they're going to advance you."

To Jerome's astonishment, his entire family arrived at the event to see him collect his award, something which was of incalculable value.

"My whole family arrived out of the blue. They came from London and Dublin, so obviously there was all sorts of trickery going on that myself and Margaret didn't know anything about," said a chuckling Jerome.

Leaving Mount Nugent at the age 18 for London, Jerome took up a role at the prestigious Savoy Hotel, a role he held with great distinction until he was head-hunted by the British Shoe Corporation.

He said: "I joined the British Shoe Corporation, which were a conglomerate of a British shoe retailers. I got the opportunity to train with them and was appointed a manager within the year.

"The great thing about England, at that time was, if you were prepared to show initiative and so on, they would give you great opportunities."

However, the call of home and the lure of a job in the old O'Rourke's coal-yard proved too strong to resist, so Jerome - once again - uprooted and moved to a new place, a place he quickly became besotted with.

Describing how his love affair with Newry began all those years ago, Jerome said: "I came here 50 years ago next month to Newry to join O'Rourke's Coal and Porters and take up a job with them. That's the memory that I had last night, of the Newry that I drove into."

He says: "I'd never been in Newry up until that point. I'd spent about eight years in London before that, then I got this opportunity to work for this company that my father had also worked for.

"It was, if you like, my ticket to getting back home and it was an opportunity that I couldn't turn down."

The richly deserved award is the culmination of 50 years of hard work and tireless civic efforts by Jerome on behalf of the underdog and the dispossessed - something that immediately attracted him to accepting and assuming his role as Polish Consul back in 2008.

"I understood the difficulties, the trials and the obstacles that would be encountered by an immigrant coming to our country from Poland.

"They had the added disadvantage in that they wouldn't have had the language. I didn't have the language barrier when I went to London."

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