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Church Figures Celebrate Honours

Monday June 13

Several people with Church of Scotland connections were named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List announced yesterday.

The renowned theologian the Rev Professor David Fergusson, principal of New College at Edinburgh University, was made an OBE.

Professor Fergusson, who was appointed one of the Queen’s chaplains last November and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the British Academy, said: "Naturally, I'm delighted to be honoured in the Queen's Birthday List.

"My involvement in the wider sphere of university and church has been an important part of my work at New College over many years.

"I am greatly indebted to many colleagues who have offered their support and friendship along the way."

Professor Fergusson was not the only Church of Scotland minister on the Honours List. The Rev John Murdo Smith, a retired minister from North Uist, was awarded a BEM for services to the community in the Western Isles. He said: “It was a very great surprise. I don’t know who made the recommendation but I feel unworthy of it, I don’t think I have done anything outstanding.”

Mr Smith recently celebrated the 60th anniversary of his ministry, and was also the hospital chaplain in Lochmaddy for 32 years, set up the League of Friends for the hospital and, he admits, did ‘so many other things I can’t remember them all all’.

It was a double celebration for his family as his daughter, Christeen Smith, was appointed an MBE in the same list. A Senior Clinical Nurse Specialist at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh, she was honoured for services to stoma patients.

Another Kirk minister honoured was the Rev Dr David Coulter, Chaplain General and head of the Royal Army Chaplains' Department, who was appointed Companion of the Order of Bath.

Also in the Armed Forces list was former Army chaplain the Rev John C Duncan, now minister at Leuchars: St Athernase, who was made an MBE.

The former MSP and presiding officer of the Scottish Parliament, Alex Fergusson, received a knighthood for services to politics and public life.

The son of a lay preacher who later went on to be a Church of Scotland minister, Mr Fergusson was the Session Clerk of his father’s church at the age of 25. A farmer before going into politics, he was an MSP from the opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 until he stood down this year; and presiding officer from 2007-2011.

He told the BBC: "It is an extraordinary honour and I am somewhat stunned, I must admit, to have been honoured in this way."

Celia Orr, a member of Greyfriars Church in Lanark, was made an MBE for services to Highland dancing and charity. She runs a successful dance school whose shows have raised over £100,000 for local charities over the years.

The founder of a youth cafe who has been involved with the Church of Scotland all her life has been made an MBE. Hazel Ralston, an elder at Glasgow Cathedral, was honoured for services to education and youth development in the city.

The 63 year-old, who established Anderston Youth Cafe, for people aged 11-15, in 2009 while working as acting head teacher of Anderston Primary School, said she was “surprised and delighted”.

“I was completely taken by surprise when I opened the letter informing me of the award. I’m delighted to receive such an honour but I am very conscious that the club could not have been so successful without the help of others."

Two people were honoured for their work with uniformed organisations. Heather Bisset, a former Aberdeenshire Councillor was made an OBE after 50 years in the Guides organisation and 15 as Gordon Girl Guide’s country president.

And David Woodrow, a newsagent in Bishopton, is to receive an MBE for his work with the Scouts. Currently district chairman for the Renfrewshire Scouts, he has previously served as a Scout leader and area commissioner.

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