Derek honoured for work in community

Derek Edmunds volunteers at Citizens Advice Bureau. Picture: Gordon Fraser
Derek Edmunds volunteers at Citizens Advice Bureau. Picture: Gordon Fraser
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DEREK Edmunds, 81, a volunteer adviser at Haddington Citizens Advice Bureau, has been awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours for services for the East Lothian community.

Born in Portobello, Mr Edmunds first went to school at the Royal High Primary in Piershill, but moved to Surrey with his family when he was about seven. He came back to Edinburgh for a year in 1941-42 when he went to George Watson’s College, before returning south and finishing his education in England.

But his mother had six siblings, five of them living in Edinburgh, so there were frequent trips back to the Capital for holidays.

He recalls cycling all the way from Surrey to Edinburgh as a teenager for one such holiday. It took him a week, staying in youth hostels along the way. “I just got this idea I wanted to do it,” he says. “I don’t think it’s something I would try now, with all the traffic.”

He left school at 16 and spent a year as a junior reporter on a local newspaper before doing his national service with the RAF. He worked briefly as a clerk in the civil service, but then got a job with British Overseas Airways Corporation using the skills he had learned in the RAF to service radios.

He went on to work for Decca radio, doing similar work, and then testing radar equipment.

Later, he wrote technical manuals for electrical equipment, moved into selling and worked for a firm of insurance brokers. When that company folded he set up his own insurance company, which kept him busy for the next 20 years.

After retiring in 1999, he and his second wife Laurelle moved to Dunbar. “I wanted to come home,” he says.

He quickly got involved in the community. He explains: “I have volunteering in my blood. When I was 20 I got involved in the community association in Surrey but I had to give it up because I was doing evening classes.

“Then I was commissioned in the Air Training Corps for 20 years. I was a magistrate in the east end of London for eight years and I was also involved with Brixton prison on the board of visitors, which is an official monitoring organisation checking things are being done properly.”

Mr Edmunds has served on the visiting committee at Polmont young offenders institution, worked with the late prisons inspector Sir Clive Fairweather on a report on Edinburgh prison and served with the Law Society of Scotland, dealing with complaints against solicitors.

He has been a volunteer with the Citizens Advice Bureau in Haddington since 2001, first as a general adviser and now as a specialist tribunal and court adviser.

He is also a former Dunbar community councillor and has been involved with the town’s Christmas lights for several years.

He has a son and a daughter from his first marriage.