JIS News

The letter informing her that she has been awarded the Badge of Honour for Meritorious Service came as a complete surprise to Joan DaCosta Robinson. “I was so shocked, I thought that they had made a mistake, that someone was playing an April’s Fool joke on me in August,” she told JIS news in an interview. But she also feels very honoured to be so recognised by her homeland.
Mrs. Robinson is an active volunteer working in a host of organizations to support children, Jamaican and women’s issues. She is the founder of VOUCH UK, a charity supporting children both in the United Kingdom and Jamaica.
“I feel great, extremely honoured, I never expected this, I never thought of me receiving any accolade for the work I have done. My father taught me to give without expecting to receive in return,” she said, adding that this was a lesson that she has passed on to her three children.
She credits the lessons she learnt from her father, Leon A. DaCosta and growing up in Jamaica for sustaining her during some very difficult periods of her life.
“Jamaica has a special place in my heart. I had a very enjoyable upbringing. I think about that whenever I am down. The sense of community, how the community looked out for you. We were brought up to have respect for people and their property and we helped each other,” she said.
Mrs. Robinson left Jamaica in the 1950s for the UK where she completed high school and college. She got married straight out of college and was soon completely involved in her roles of wife and mother. She went back to fulltime studies in her early 40s and gained qualifications in Commerce, Business and Financial management.
However, by the early 1990s Mrs. Robinson was facing the most traumatic period of her life. Her marriage had broken down and she collapsed at work and had to take a brain operation, which left her unable to do the type of managerial work she was trained to do. In 1998 she suffered the first of two strokes. The second was in 1999 but she was determined to recover and worked hard to achieve this.
During this period she continued to be involved in many organizations, working to improve the rights of women and children. She was a member of Fair Shares, which worked for the rights of divorced women; Black Women’s Promotion and was a delegate at the 4th World Women’s Conference at the United Nations in New York.
She is a member of the British Caribbean Association and the Lignum Vitae Club. In recognition for her work with VOUCH, she was honoured as Woman of the Year in 1996.