Edinburgh volunteers awarded British Empire Medal

Three Edinburgh volunteers have been presented with the British Empire Medal today in recognition of their dedication to caring and volunteering and for their communities.

 The Lord Provost, acting as the Queen’s representative for the City of Edinburgh, presented the medals to the three female recipients from the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List at a special ceremony at the Capital’s City Chambers.

The 2014 recipients are Mrs Jeanette Agnes Barton for services to Community Care, Mrs Margaret Collinson for Voluntary Service in Edinburgh, and Mrs Elizabeth Agnes Macdonald for service to NHS Medic 1 Trust.

The British Empire Medal is awarded for a sustained, local contribution of innovative, high-impact work worthy of recognition by the Crown. Awarded from 1922 until 1992, it was brought back in June 2012 in celebration for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

The Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Donald Wilson, said: "It is my honour and privilege to bestow, on the Queen’s behalf, the British Empire Medal to these very worthy recipients.

"Each of these women are inspirational role models for our city, proving that hard working and caring volunteers are at the heart of building positivity within communities.”

Edinburgh’s Recipients

Mrs Jeanette Agnes Barton, BEM

  • Jeanette is a highly respected civil servant who retired in 2013, after a dedicated career spanning over 40 years.
  • She has worked as personal secretary to a variety of senior civil servants, including The Scottish Education Department, The Scottish Home and Health Department and Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary.
  • Since 1994 she has principally worked in social work services and community care, assisting in the delivery of major structural changes such as the regulation of care, and in sensitive policy areas such as adult protection.
  • Her work has always been directed at improving the quality of life of those who are most disadvantaged in society.
  • As well as achievements in her career, Jeanette has also worked tirelessly through volunteering, as well as being principal carer for both her parents.
  • An elder for over 40 years in St Cuthberts Church has put Jean at the forefront of working with vulnerable people. For a number of years she worked at a respite care facility for severely disabled teenagers to provide care and support over weekends.
  • She also led youth work in the cellar of the church for young people who had serious offending histories, to keep them off the street and reduce re-offending.
  • More recently she led a project for homeless people to provide food and care throughout the winter.
  • She is currently working on the Churches Together project, which encourages the city centre churches to work more effectively together.
  • As if that wasn’t enough Jean also cares for a group of 12 to 15 frail older people whom she visits regularly and often acts as their advocate raising any issues they may have.
  • She has undoubtedly had a huge positive influence on the lives of countless people.

Mrs Margaret Colinson, BEM

  • Margaret has spent the last 40 years providing her time, friendship, loyalty and compassion, to volunteer with a range of organisations, to help care for others. She is the kind of volunteer that all charities depend on - reliable, willing to do anything to help and passionate about the cause.
  • She first started as a volunteer in the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service shop in the Princess Margaret Rose hospital in 1973 and continued when the hospital closed and the WRVS moved to the Western General.
  • She has also worked tirelessly as a volunteer for Marie Curie Cancer Care for over 20 years bringing much appreciated cups of tea and friendly conversation to the patients at the hospice.  She is the perfect ambassador for the charity, helping to raise the profile of Marie Curie as well as funds.
  • She does this by hosting annual garden parties at her own home, forwarding all monies raised to charity. As well as Marie Curie, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution have benefitted greatly from these funds.
  • Although Margaret has suffered through bouts of ill-health herself, she never hesitates to put the care and compassion of others first. Even when she is just out of hospital she cannot wait to get straight back to volunteering.

Mrs Elizabeth Agnes Macdonald, BEM

  • For over 30 years Elizabeth has been the lynch pin of one of the busiest Accident and Emergency Departments in the country at The Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
  • Working as Departmental secretary to the lead consultant, she provides the backbone to administration services, co-ordinating the activities of the medical and nursing staff.
  • Despite all the stresses and pressures of working in a front line clinical service, she has always shown the utmost professionalism, working beyond expectations and maintaining a smiling face.
  • She is always happy to help and act as a beacon of advice and support to colleagues, and a friend to staff, patients and relatives.
  • Over the years she has been a key figure and essential liaison with the Police, Armed Services and Royal Households to facilitate many of the high profile activities of the Department including State and Royal visits, and developing training for police officers in trauma care.
  • Her impact is not just felt in Edinburgh, but around the world.   She has been instrumental in supporting the Romanian Accident and Emergency services to develop resuscitation rooms for severely injured casualties.
  • Elizabeth has also volunteered for Edinburgh’s pre-hospital flying squad - Medic 1 - since the inception of the Medic 1 Charitable Trust in 1994, which provides on-site medical care at major disasters and traumatic events.
  • As secretary she played a key role in the evacuation of children from war torn Yugoslavia, and dealing with troubles in Kurdistan after the first Gulf War.
  • Without her dedication and enormous contribution, the Accident and Emergency Department at Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary would not have been able to establish itself as the pre-eminent centre of emergency medicine in the UK, and one of the foremost departments of its kind in the world for the quality of its care training and research.

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