John awarded an MBE in New Year honours

John Williams who has been awarded MBE in the Queens new years honours list. Pictured outside Foulden village hall John has awarded in recognition of services to the community, a recent project of which was finding the funding for the new hall.
John Williams who has been awarded MBE in the Queens new years honours list. Pictured outside Foulden village hall John has awarded in recognition of services to the community, a recent project of which was finding the funding for the new hall.

A COMMUNITY-MINDED Foulden man has been made a Member of the British Empire for his services to the village.

Former Berwickshire High School teacher John Williams, who spent 30 years as chairman of Foulden, Mordington and Lamberton Community Council, has been awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours List.

Mr Williams, who retired as chairman of the community council two years ago, but still serves as vice chair, has been honoured for his service to the community.

As well as his community council work, Mr Williams was instrumental in the refurbishment of Foulden Village Hall, now a well-used community facility, in 2005.

He said: “I was very surprised to receive the MBE, which is for my work with the village hall and the community council.

“I was a member of the community council when it was formed in 1976 and was made vice chairman at its second meeting, and then in 1978 I was made chairman.”

He added: “There have been a lot of changes in that time. We managed to do quite a lot in the 30 years that I was chairman so it’s quite nice to have that recognised.”

Energetic UNICEF fund-raiser Margaret Laidlaw from Dunbar also received an MBE for her voluntary service to the children’s charity.

Mrs Laidlaw of Aytonlea, North Road, Dunbar, has helped raise thousands of pounds to help children worldwide for 24 years and has already been presented with an Outstanding Achievement Award from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Back in 2010, she was praised by Lord Paddy Ashdown, president of UNICEF UK, for the “incredible work” done by the Dunbar branch which she founded in 1988.

Over the years, the group, led by Mrs Laidlaw, has rallied to the call during a global crisis, raising funds to help youngsters affected by conflict and natural disasters. This has been done with a variety of activities and events such as Burns suppers, collection boxes in shops and pubs, prize draws, coffee mornings and an annual bridge luncheon.

Mrs Laidlaw paid tribute to her committee and fund-raising team as well as supporters in the town. She said: “I am carrying this honour for UNICEF. I am completely overwhelmed by the enormity of the occasion. It has been a long haul - 24 years - coming up with different ideas for fund-raising but I love the challenge.”

The 77-year-old said their greatest achievement was raising £9,854 back in 1996 to provide a well in Mozambique.

George Higgs, chair of the Borders Equality Forum, has also been recognised for services to community relations.

The 62-year-old has been awarded the MBE for his work integrating migrants into the region. He said he was “very humbled” by the honour.

“You associate these awards with people who have done extraordinarily well, but I am just an ordinary guy,” Mr Higgs insisted.

It was during his 20-year teaching career in the catering and hospitality department at Borders College that Mr Higgs’s work in promoting equal opportunities took off.

He explained “The police were looking for an advisor and to be honest, I think I was the only black face in the Borders at the time.”

Mr Higgs got more and more involved with the community and looked at different ways of helping people coming into the Borders, and the migrant support service was started.