Women of Sheffield awards: How Dorrett Buckley-Greaves MBE became a community figurehead

Dorrett Buckley-Greaves moved to Sheffield when the Queen made a plea for Jamaicans to live in Britain.

Monday, 28th January 2019, 10:23 am
Updated Monday, 28th January 2019, 10:25 am
Dorrett Buckley Greaves MBE.

However, the challenges faced in England were more difficult than expected.

“When I got here I started working in the hospital as ward orderly, I was among the first group of black women that worked there,” she said. 

Dorrett Buckley Greaves MBE.

“I wanted some money to take my family home to Jamaica. It was alright when I started but afterwards they tried to change my job. Because of the problems we were having with the English people being against us coming here, we couldn’t get anywhere to live properly. They were against us and we put up with a lot.”

Dorrett, who became an MBE in 2009, won the admiration of the Burngreave community when she decided to find somewhere for West Indian people to meet and socialise.

Now she is supporting The Star’s Women of Sheffield awards, aimed at recognising the city’s hardworking women.

“When we came here we put up a fight for our rights because the Queen had come to Jamaica to ask us to move to England, they wanted us but when we arrived it was abominable,” she said.

Dorrett Buckley Greaves MBE. Picture: Chris Etchells

“There were so many problems so I went to help and work and do what I could to get us together so we wouldn’t be treated so badly.

“We went out into the community to do things together to help develop Sheffield and get a place for us to be together. From here we founded SADACCA, which was the West Indian Association at the time. Before there, we didn’t have a place to go. We just had meetings whenever we could and the Caribbean students from the university met with us.”

It wasn’t easy for the founding members.

Dorrett added: “We asked for a place for ourselves and they said they hadn’t got anywhere for us, so we searched until we found the place on the Wicker.”

Dorrett Buckley Greaves MBE.

From there the group held regular meetings with the police, who would often visit the houses of SADACCA members for lunch to discuss how they could help to improve the lives of people within the association.

The much-loved lady didn’t stop there and went on to be chosen as a community representative for the Burngreave New Deal for Communities. The government-funded organisation helped to regenerate the area.

“You have to have the mind to do things,” she said. “I was the only black person when we had Town Hall meetings.”

She was also the first black woman in Sheffield to offer digs to university students.

Dorrett said: “There were four students living in my house and some of them stayed until they had finished university, three years. The parents came to see me and thank me for looking after them.

“Society is a lot better now because thank God I was there to put all I’ve got into the area. We built up SADACCA, just a handful of us.”

The Dorrett Buckley Greaves MBE award for community will be presented on March 7, the day before International Women’s Day.  

It is timed to link in with a special edition of The Star that will be published on March 8 and delivered into Sheffield schools to show young girls what they can achieve and aspire to.  To nominate somebody for Women of Sheffield, email ann.holmes@jpimedia.co.uk with her name, the category she is nominated for and why she deserves to win,

The awards are sponsored by MK Public Relations, Grad Consult, Ray Wragg, Future Wealth Life Management, Vine Hotels and Sheffield Girls High School.