Real Lives: Margaret’s selfless caring recognised

Mrs Margaret Collinson with her British Empire Medals (BEM), awarded by the Lord Lieutenant of Edinburgh (Lord Provost).''Pic: Malcolm McCurrach
Mrs Margaret Collinson with her British Empire Medals (BEM), awarded by the Lord Lieutenant of Edinburgh (Lord Provost).''Pic: Malcolm McCurrach
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A woman who has spent the last 40 years devoting her time to caring for others across the Capital has been presented with a British Empire Medal.

Margaret Collinson, 83, was given the honour by Edinburgh’s Lord Provost, Donald Wilson, last week after being recognised in the New Year’s Honours List.

Her passion for volunteering started in 1973, when she joined the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service, now the RVS, to serve in the shop and canteen of the Princess Margaret Rose Hospital, moving to the Western General when it closed.

Mrs Collinson, of Kingsknowe, has also worked tirelessly as a volunteer for Marie Curie Cancer Care for more than 20 years, bringing much appreciated cups of tea and friendly conversation to the patients at its Fairmilehead hospice, as well as fundraising.

The retired bank worker currently spends one day a week at Marie Curie and another at the Western General.

Her annual garden parties at her Edinburgh home over the past 28 years have raised thousands for Marie Curie and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

And despite suffering bouts of ill-health herself, Mrs Collinson has been praised for constantly putting the care and compassion of others first.

Speaking when the New Year’s Honours were first announced, she said: “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.”

At a presentation last week, Councillor Wilson said: “On behalf of the city I would like to say how proud we are of your achievements.”

Last year, Mrs Collinson was also nominated for the Diamond Champions award, established by the RVS in 2012.

She did not make it to the final national shortlist, but she was praised by First Minister Alex Salmond during a visit to the Western General.

He said: “People like Margaret really are the pillars of their community. She deserves every bit of recognition.”

The British Empire Medal is awarded for meritorious civil or military service worthy of recognition by the Crown.

It was awarded in the United Kingdom from 1922 until 1992, after which time it lay in abeyance in the UK, although was still awarded in some Commonwealth countries.

It was revived in June 2012 in order to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.