Edinburgh charity heroes join stars on New Year's Honours List

A TIRELESS campaigner whose efforts helped to raise more than £1 million for an Edinburgh cancer centre is among those being recognised in the Queen's New Year Honours list.

Friday, 29th December 2017, 9:30 pm
Lisa Stephenson, centre main image, and (right) Sara Fitzsimmons, Grant Douglas and Susan Rice

Maggie’s fundraiser Lisa Stephenson said she was “incredibly flattered and humbled” to be receiving a BEM (British Empire Medal) for her services to the cancer care charity in Scotland.

She is joined on this year’s list by Street Soccer founder David Duke, who receives an MBE, while a CBE goes to Scottish rugby union stalwart Ian ‘Mighty Mouse’ McLaughlan.

Mum-of-two Lisa knows just how much of a difference the emotional support offered by Maggie’s can make for patients and their families after being diagnosed with myeloma in 2011.

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David Duke - the founder of Street Soccer - who has been made MBE in the honours list

Her Buy-A-Brick campaign, backed by the Evening News, helped secure the cash needed for a much-needed £1.2 million extension to the charity’s Edinburgh centre at the Western General. Once complete, the extension will allow the centre and its inspirational team to help an additional 5,000 people every year.

Ms Stephenson, 48, said she was “incredibly flattered and humbled” upon receiving her all-important letter from the Cabinet Office and spoke of her delight that the extension could now get under way.

She said: “I know people will be really pleased and I do feel that it belongs to every single person who has contributed to that fundraising, and the Evening News has played a huge part in that.

“I just feel it’s doing my bit. At the end of the day I’m over the moon to still be here. I’m here because of my doctors and Maggie’s. God willing I’ll be able to continue doing things for Maggie’s – we have got a couple of really exciting things in the pipeline.

David Duke - the founder of Street Soccer - who has been made MBE in the honours list

“I’d always said I’d like to make a million before I went and joined the angels so I feel incredibly grateful to my doctors at the Western General and the Marsden who got me there.”

Another local hero being honoured by Her Majesty is Street Soccer Scotland founder David Duke, who has earned an MBE for his services to football and socially disadvantaged people.

Mr Duke’s social enterprise delivers a range of football-related events, personal development courses and education programme to socially disadvantaged adults and young people all over Scotland.

Street Soccer Scotland is also a partner of the Homeless World Cup and every year it chooses and coaches the national Scottish Homeless World Cup team.

Mr Duke, 37, said the accolade had come as a complete surprise and that at first he thought it might have been a practical joke.

“You don’t expect it, it’s not something that ever came into my head,” he explained. “For me the job I do in terms of Street Soccer Scotland is all about being selfless. It’s not about personal attention, it’s not about personal honours – that’s not what drives it, but obviously it’s a huge honour.”

Also the founder of Change Centre Scotland, a social enterprise which creates sustainable lives for people experiencing homelessness, Mr Duke said his award was for everybody in his team.

He said: “It’s my name on the MBE but if you look at what Street Soccer has done over the last few years there’s hundreds of people.

“I’m just one of many people trying to make a difference. It just so happens that I’m the head and founder, but one person doesn’t change things – you change things as a team.”

Having experienced homelessness first-hand, he said he hoped the MBE would also show others going through difficult times that things can get better.

He added: “The reason I’m in this position is because of the support I got back in 2004 and the people who were there for me and the projects that supported me. Anybody can get a second chance and move on and it can offer that wee bit of hope for people that anything is possible as long as people are given support, security and a bit of purpose.”

Another honour goes to 43-year-old Grant Douglas, founder and chief executive of S’up Products, for services to people with disabilities.

Mr Douglas teamed up with industrial designer Mark Penver, from 4c Design, to create an innovative new spoon to help people with shaky hands from conditions such as cerebral palsy, essential tremor and Parkinson’s disease.

The design proved such a hit that they won a coveted award from housing and care provider Blackwood, and now he can add an MBE to his growing list of accolades.

Mr Douglas, who lives in Corstorphine and has had to keep the news a secret ever since November, said he never could never have imagined getting to this stage from first having the idea.

He said: “It was a total shock, I couldn’t believe it when the letter came through the letterbox.

“When you get feedback from people all over the world saying what a difference the spoon has made it just makes it all worthwhile.

“You get people coming up to you saying that before having the spoon they would never go out to a restaurant because of the embarrassment of spilling things and now they go out whenever they want. That is beyond my wildest dreams.

“What I would hope is not only to help people with the spoon but to enable them to say yes, I might be disabled, but it didn’t stop me from doing what I want to do.”

Also getting an MBE in this year’s honours is 55-year-old Craig Graham, chairman of the Spartans Community Football Academy, for his services to football and the community in Edinburgh.

Set up by the club in 2006, the Community Football Academy operates throughout north Edinburgh by delivering innovative programmes in youth work and education.

Mr Graham said: “At Spartans we have got loads of brilliant people – they are hugely committed and hugely generous with their time.

“I happen to have got dead lucky to have this award, but it’s really on behalf of everyone at Spartans over the last ten years and all the efforts they have put in. It’s exciting and obviously you always appreciate when someone recognises your work.”

Sara Lee Fitzsimmons, executive charity director at SiMBA, also gets an MBE for services to bereaved families.

Meanwhile, the head of Scotland’s independent economic forecasting body has been made a Dame in the New Year Honours list.

Susan Rice, the chair of the Scottish Fiscal Commission and Scottish Water, said the honour was a “source of great pride” as she paid tribute to those she had worked with over the years.

Dame Susan, a former member of the First Minister’s Council of Economic Advisers, is being recognised for services to business, the arts and charity.

She said: “I hope my career illustrates the holistic relationship between business, our culture and the arts.

“To be appointed a DBE by Her Majesty is a source of great pride for me and my family.

“I trust it also salutes the many people I’ve worked with who also value the inherent link between business and society.”

Dame Susan is also a lay member of Edinburgh University’s Court and chairs the patrons’ governors of the National Galleries of Scotland and the City of Edinburgh’s culture task group and previous other roles she has held in the arts and city festivals.