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Saturday, 30 December, 2000, 00:10 GMT
Mystery of PC's nomination

The first Pc Raimondo Zavaglia knew of his MBE was on his return home from work on Thursday to find a letter from 10 Downing Street.

"I called to my wife Deborah, and my kids, to come and read it. At first my wife refused to believe me," he said.

The sincerity of his actions and genuine empathy with his young community are self-evident

South Wales Police Chief Constable Tony Burden

Mr Zavaglia says it is the work he has done with disadvantaged and disabled children that has led to the honour.

Having raised money for countless children in the deprived area of Cardiff's docklands, the former paratrooper - who joined South Wales Police in 1985 - most recently organised a pony-trekking expedition to the Brecon Beacons for over 100 inner-city children.

On top of that terminally-ill children have been able to visit Disneyland in Florida thanks to his efforts, which, over the years, have raised well over 250,000 for the community.

But he still does not know who nominated him for an MBE.

"I think the nomination must have come from a member of the public," he said.

"My motivation to do these things is people, to do good within the community, to be seen as someone who helps other people, and I am eternally grateful to the person who nominated me for this honour."

I think the nomination must have come from a member of the public

Pc Raimondo Zavaglia

In Italy Mr Zavaglia has been awarded the Knight of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Italy - equivalent to a British knighthood, for the work he has done for the Italian community in Wales.

Born in Cardiff to parents who emigrated from Italy in the early 1950s, he said his identiy as a Welsh-Italian is very important to him.

"People can have a stereotype of Italian immigrants," he says, "But this is usually wrong.

"There are large numbers of Italian families deeply integrated into their Welsh communities."

South Wales Police Chief Constable Tony Burden had been informed in advance by Downing Street that the accolade was being made to one of his officers.

He said: "The sincerity of his actions and genuine empathy with his young community are self-evident. It is this sincerity that has earned him their trust and confidence."

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30 Dec 00 | Wales
New Year's Honours for Wales
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