THE dedication, sacrifice and achievements of local heroes were recognised today in the New Year’s Honours List.
There are awards for one woman’s lifetime of voluntary work, another’s commitment to gymnastics and a third’s vital role in helping to run Scotland’s biggest A&E department, while honours also go to a centenarian artist and a canal volunteer who received his award last month because he was terminally ill.
Margaret Collinson, 83, from Kingsknowe, who receives the British Empire Medal for voluntary service in the Capital, is one of the unsung heroes to pick up a gong.
She started volunteering when she was just 15. Already working full-time at the Bank of Scotland in Princes Street, she spent her Sunday afternoons taking children from the Lord and Lady Polwarth’s Home for walks.
She signed up with the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service in 1973 and volunteered at the Princess Margaret Rose Hospital, serving in the shop and in the canteen. When the hospital closed in 2000, Margaret contacted Marie Curie and asked if they needed any help at their hospice in Fairmilehead. Soon she was organising the flowers and later took on the teas and coffees for patients.
Now she spends one day a week at Marie Curie and another at the Western General. She has also held fundraising garden parties for various causes over the past 28 years.
“I’ve had a lot of ups and downs healthwise and I feel I’ve had a lot done for me, so I wanted to pay back something into the community.
“I have survived cancer and I feel I have had so much out of my life.
“It was the managers at the Western who put me forward for this. I was amazed because I wasn’t looking for recognition. It has been a pleasure to do it.
“That’s why I have done it – the pleasure I get from helping others. I have met so many nice people and it has widened my life.
“I’m a person who likes to be on the go. I can’t just sit back and do nothing. It’s just my nature – I like to mix with people and I find it easy.”
A British Empire Medal also goes to Margaret Bisset. head coach of Meadowbank Gymnastics Club, for services to gymnastics. And another BEM recipient is Liz MacDonald, a stalwart of the Royal Infirmary’s Accident and Emergency unit.
Starting work with the health service in 1968, she has been in her current role, as personal assistant to the department’s highly-skilled team of clinical director, consultants and doctors for nearly two decades.
As well as performing the essential job of managing the lifesavers’ schedules and making sure everything is set up to allow them to do their jobs, she has given her time voluntarily to support the Medic 1 vehicle – which speeds specialist consultants and nurses from A&E to patients, often while they are trapped in car wrecks.
Liz became a trustee of the service in 1985 and honorary treasurer around five years ago, after it became a charitable trust in 1998 with cash raised going towards equipment, education and research.
Despite receiving the honour and turning 65 today, the NHS veteran, of Colinton, says she has no plans to give up a position she describes as “challenging but rewarding”. “I just love the job,” she said. “There are a good number of medical staff so looking after them all and making sure they’re happy does have its moments, but it’s a great crowd and a perfect team.
“I feel so humbled I have been named but it should go to everybody there, they’re what makes it so enjoyable.”
Heriot-Watt University’s Professor Geoffrey Palmer - Scotland’s first black professor – is knighted for his services to human rights, science and charity.
The brewing and cereals expert and anti-racism campaigner, who lives in Penicuik, said: “I have been lucky. I’ve had a multiple career in different areas and I’ve met many good and interesting people.”
The 73-year-old came to Britain from Jamaica in 1955 and arrived in Edinburgh for his PhD studies in 1964. He later became a lecturer and then professor of brewing at Heriot-Watt. He added: “I know my family and friends and colleagues, both in brewing and community activities, will all be pleased about this honour, but it is partly their award too – I really believe that.”
Also knighted is Professor Adrian Bird, the Buchanan professor of genetics at Edinburgh University, for services to science.
He led a research team that discovered a “guardian angel” enzyme that fights cancer in 2002. The discovery was hailed as a major breakthrough in understanding how cancer starts in the body and how it could be treated.
Artist Derek Clarke – who celebrates his 101st birthday today – is made an MBE for services to art. He is the oldest member of the Royal Scottish Academy of Art and Architecture and earlier this year it held an exhibition of his works, including some from 2012 as well as others dating back nearly 80 years.
Mr Clarke taught at Edinburgh College of Art from 1947 until 1978. His students included John Bellany and Elizabeth Blackadder.
But one of his biggest paintings has spent more than 50 years behind wallpaper. He created a huge mural for The Sacred Heart Church in Lauriston in 1957. The life-sized risen Christ was surrounded by figures and faces including parishioners, and the artist’s own family, all in 50s fashion. But in the 1960s, the church covered the scene and it has lain unseen apart from a brief glimpse in the 1990s.
Bob Neilson was the voluntary maintenance engineer for the Ratho Branch of Seagull Trust Cruises for more than 33 years until he died on December 4. He was key to the trust’s free barge trips for people with special needs. On becoming terminally ill a year ago, rather than take things easy, he intensified his voluntary work. He was presented with the British Empire Medal a week before his death.
Hairdresser Jennifer Cheyne receives an OBE for her services to the industry and for charity. Ms Cheyne began her career as a trainee and started her own business at the age of just 23 with a £2000 loan from her father. She set up her first salon in 1976 with just one assistant, but now employs more than 170 people at six salons across the Capital.
She also starred in the Channel 4 series Secret Millionaire, giving up her usual lifestyle for nine days to live in the Welsh village of Aberfan, tasked with getting to know its residents and their social problems.
She said: “I am totally surprised, honoured and absolutely delighted to receive such a prestigious award.”
FULL LIST OF LOTHIAN RECIPIENTS
Professor Adrian Peter Bird, CBE, FRS, FRSE. Buchanan Professor of Genetics, University of Edinburgh. For services to science. (Edinburgh)
Professor Godfrey Henry Oliver Palmer, OBE. Professor Emeritus, Heriot-Watt University. For services to human rights, science and charity. (Penicuik)
ORDER OF THE BATH - CB
Dr Philip John Director General Rycroft. Deputy Prime Minister’s Office. For services to the UK’s devolved and coalition governments. (Dunbar)
ROYAL VICTORIAN MEDAL
Mrs Elinor Mary Allan. General assistant, housekeeping, Palace of Holyroodhouse.
Professor Alastair David Shaw Fowler, FBA. Emeritus Professor of Rhetoric and English Literature, University of Edinburgh. For services to literature and education. (Edinburgh)
Mrs Jayne Anne Gadhia. Chief executive Officer, Virgin Money. For services to banking and voluntary service to the community. (Edinburgh, pictured right)
Professor Olivier James Garden. Regius Chair of Clinical Surgery, University of Edinburgh. For services to surgery. (Newington, Edinburgh)
Professor Harvey McGregor, QC. For services to the law and education. (Edinburgh)
Professor Lesley Jane Yellowlees, MBE, FRSE. President, Royal Society of Chemistry. For services to chemistry. (Edinburgh)
Mrs Elaine Cynthia Acaster. Formerly vice-Principal for Strategy and Governance, Royal Veterinary College University of London. For services to higher education. (Edinburgh)
Professor Nigel Leslie Brown, FRSE. President, Society for General Microbiology and Emeritus Professor of Molecular Microbiology, University of Edinburgh. For services to science. (Chapmanslade, Wiltshire)
Ms Jennifer Cheyne. For services to hairdressing and charity. (Edinburgh)
Owen Dennis Kelly. Chief executive, Scottish Financial Enterprise. For financial and charitable service in Scotland. (Edinburgh)
Ms Pamela Margaret Niven. Implementation manager, Organ Donation Task Force, NHS Lothian. For services to healthcare and organ donation in Scotland. (Craigentinny, Edinburgh)
Charles Keith Oliver. Chair, Cricket Scotland. For services to cricket. (Edinburgh)
Dr Graeme Alexander Stewart Purves. Formerly assistant chief planner, Scottish Government. For services to the planning profession. (Edinburgh)
Mrs Mary Josephine Brittain. Formerly manager, Schools, Colleges and Community Outreach Department, Nottingham Trent University. For services to higher education. (Edinburgh)
Derek Clarke. Artist. For services to art. (Edinburgh)
Dennis John Nicoll Dick. For services to biodiversity, conservation and environmental sustainability in Scotland. (Trinity, Edinburgh)
Derek Meldrum Edmunds. Specialist Volunteer Tribunal and Court Adviser, Haddington Citizens Advice Bureau. For services to the community in East Lothian. (Dunbar)
Mrs Elizabeth Findlater. President, West Lothian County Girl Guides. For services to the Guiding Movement in Scotland. (Linlithgow, West Lothian)
Mrs Gladys Alanna Knight. Writer. For services to literature. (Edinburgh)
Dr Susan Loughlin. Head of Volcanology, British Geological Survey. For services to volcanology. (Edinburgh)
Dr Heather Sylvia McHaffie. Scottish Plants Officer, The Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh. For services to the conservation of plants in Scotland. (Edinburgh, pictured above left)
Mrs May Millward. Senior Executive Officer, Human Resources, Department for Work and Pensions. For services to mediation in the workplace and to the community in West Lothian. (Philpstoun, West Lothian)
Ian Gordon Scott. For services to archeology in Scotland. (Edinburgh)
Flt Lt James Douglas Scott. Chairman, Edinburgh, Lothians and Borders Branch, RAF Association. For voluntary service to the RAF Association. (Edinburgh)
Mrs Joan Slight. Services manager, Historic Scotland. For services to history in Scotland and voluntary service through the Girls’ Brigade. (Dalkeith)
Mrs Anne Margaret Tait. General Council Assessor, University of Edinburgh. For services to education. (Edinburgh)
James Walker. Councillor, West Lothian Council. For services to the community in Bathgate, West Lothian. (Bathgate)
Mrs Jeanette Agnes Barton. Personal assistant, Health and Social Care Integration Directorate, Scottish Government. For services to community care. (Edinburgh)
Mrs Margaret Bisset. Head Coach, Meadowbank Gymnastics Club. For services to gymnastics. (Gorebridge)
Mrs Margaret Collinson. For voluntary service in Edinburgh. (Edinburgh)
Mrs Elizabeth Agnes MacDonald. For services to the NHS and the Medic 1 Trust. (Edinburgh)
James Robert Neilson. For voluntary services to the Elderly and People with Disabilities through the Seagull Trust Cruises in Ratho, Midlothian. (Ratho)
Queen’s Police Medal
Chief Supt Jeanette McDiarmid, divisional police commander for the Lothians and Scottish Borders.