A stalwart for the protection of children has been recognised by the Roman Catholic Church.

Debi Ray-Rivers, the founder and director of Saving Children and Revealing Secrets, was given the Peace and Social Justice Award during a ceremony at St Theresa’s Catholic Cathedral in Pembroke.

Ms Ray-Rivers said yesterday: “I feel overwhelmingly humbled to be included with an amazing group of past honourees and put in that category who have created social change.

“The other honourees have been champions for social justice, and to be added to this list is really an honour.”

The award, created by the church as a way to recognise trailblazers of social change, has been given eight other times since its inception.

Its previous awardees include E.F. Gordon, a civil rights activist and labour leader, and Claudette Fleming, who led the charity Age Concern for more than 20 years.

Scars focuses on preventing child sexual abuse, helping victims and spreading awareness of its warning signs and how to combat it.

The organisation’s advocacy has made it a leading voice in matters involving child abuse, and has started training courses that have since become mandatory in some professional fields.

Ms Ray-Rivers said she started the organisation as a way to make the most out of a personal tragedy.

She said: “All I did was take the darkest day of my life and turn it into a purpose.

“I wanted to make sure that what happened years ago with my family would never happen to anyone.”

The Peace and Social Justice Committee, which heads the awards ceremony, contacted Ms Ray-Rivers in March about potentially receiving the honour and, after an interview, vetted her throughout the year.

Ms Ray-Rivers thanked her team and board members for their help, as well as her family and friends for their support, saying “this award is as much theirs as it is mine”.

She added that the public had become very receptive of learning about Scars training and have enacted more changes that cracked down on child abuse.

Ms Ray-Rivers said: “We are definitely an example to this world that what Bermuda has done, any country can do.”

Royal Gazette