Edinburgh people recognised in Queen's Birthday Honours list including Ian Rankin, Iain Livingstone and Jennifer Dodds

An Edinburgh florist who trained under the woman who created the Queen’s coronation arrangements in 1953 has come full circle, after having been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

By Rhoda Morrison and Neil Johnstone
Thursday, 2nd June 2022, 4:55 am
Updated Thursday, 2nd June 2022, 11:46 am

Thomas Maxwell, 76, has been awarded an MBE for services to floristry and charity after more than 50 years designing bouquets and flower arrangements.

A farmer’s son, Thomas grew up in Dumfries and at the age of 18, he moved to London where he trained under the tutelage of the distinguished British educator, author and florist Constance Spry – the lady responsible for arranging the Queen’s coronation flowers. In London he also regularly arranged flowers for corporate events at Downing Street.

He worked down south for seven years before moving to Edinburgh, where he set up shop as a florist in Castle Street when he was 25. He was there for 42 years before he moved to a new store in Montrose Terrace in 2012.

Thomas Maxwell

Thomas, who has kept the secret of his MBE from his wife of 53 years Gail, their two daughters and three grandchildren, said he “never in a million years” expected to be honoured by the Queen.

“I was rather surprised when I received a letter by email from the Cabinet Office. I feel honoured but it’s not just about me, it’s my staff who have supported me throughout all these years,” he said.

He added that he was privileged to have been part of some of the biggest days of his customers’ lives over the course of his half a century-long career.

“I feel very privileged that I have dipped into people’s lives and shared all sorts of important family occasions with many, many families throughout Scotland,” he said. “Although we were based in Edinburgh my work took me to the borders, Ayrshire, Perthshire, Aberdeenshire and quite often south of the border.

Bill Dove (centre) has been recognised for his choir work

“It is very special. To see a bride and her beautiful dress coming down the stairs to leave to go to her wedding. I’ve been doing it all these years and it’s still just such a thrill to see these people setting off on their life journeys.”

Thomas has also been involved in charity work for more than 30 years and has donated his time to countless charities including Marie Curie, the Prince’s Trust and Edinburgh’s The Royal Bline School.

Receiving a British Empire Medal for services to music and young people is lifelong Edinburgh resident Bill Dove.

Having grown up in Leith in a musical family, with a piano-playing mother and singer father, Bill’s affinity with music lasts as long as he can remember.

After leaving school, keen drummer Bill worked in a bookshop before becoming a civil servant for 30 years.

Bill, is choir coordinator for the National Youth Choir of Scotland and has donated his time for the organisation since 1998.

He began working with the choir when his daughter became a member and started out as a parent helper before stepping into his current role.

Now, he dedicates ten hours a week to working behind the scenes and his workload increases when the group is preparing for festivals and concerts.

On hearing the news of his BEM, Bill said he was “absolutely surprised and delighted”.

“I never thought I would be honoured like that. It was a great surprise and I was humbled by it because there’s a lot of people besides me that do a lot for young people. I’m really quite chuffed – that’s putting it mildly. I just wish my parents were around to see it,” he said.

“I’m going to try and find out who the very nice people who nominated me are. I’d like to know who they are because I’m extremely grateful to them.”

Edinburgh-born curler Jennifer Dodds has also received an MBE after her team returned from the 2022 Winter Olympics with a gold medal.

Dodds and the GB Women’s curling team thrashed Japan 10-3 in the women’s final and ended Team GB’s 20-year wait for curling gold.

Speaking at the time of her historic win, Dodds said: ”I feel incredibly proud of the girls and what they’ve achieved. It shows all the hard work that we’ve put in”.

Covid heroes were also among those to have been recognised in the honours list; both for their scientific contribution and for their community efforts.

Professor Aziz Sheikh, chair of primary care research and development at the University of Edinburgh, has been knighted for services to Covid-19 Research and Policy.

Professor David Charles Kluth received an OBE for his services to medical education during the Covid-19 response, while Dr Mary Ruth McQuillan, a senior lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, also received an OBE for her services to science during the pandemic.

Also among those honoured was dedicated headteacher of Pinewood School in West Lothian, Pamela Greig, who was recognised for her services to children and adults with additional support needs, Lieutenant Commander (Retd) Martyn Robert Hawthorn, chairman of the Royal British Legion Scotland, for his voluntary service to veterans and the community, and foster carer Susan Hunter for her services to children.

Capital crime author Ian Rankin and Scotland’s chief constable Iain Livingstone are also among the Scots to have received knighthoods in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Sir Ian, who was knighted for his services to literature and charity, said: “It is amazing to be honoured in this way as we celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. It may not make writing my next book any easier but it is gratifying to be recognised both for my crime novels and the work I do for charity.”