Community means everything to Reston’s Barrie Forrest, so when it came to accepting his British Empire Medal, the venue for the ceremony had to be the village hall there.
The number of people who turned up to see the lord-lieutenant of Berwickshire, Jeanna Swan, present Barrie with his medal was testament to him and his tireless enthusiasm for campaigning about roads, railway and his community.
A video tribute was paid to the 74-year-old by Scottish Borders Council leader David Parker, and Tom Thorburn, chairman of Rail Action Group East Scotland (RAGES), spoke warmly of working with Barrie and his unfailing belief that trains would one day stop at Reston’s station once again.
“I was absolutely thrilled to hear that you received the BEM,” Melrose and Leaderdale councillor Mr Parker told Barrie. “I can’t think of a Borderer who is more deserving of an award. What you have done for Reston and Berwickshire is incredible.
“When the local rail service idea was first mooted, many people thought it would never happen, but Reston station will become a reality Barrie and that’s come about because of your dedication.”
Mr Thorburn added: “What a fantastic day. There is no one more deserving, and it’s a testament to you to see all the people who have come out here today. The work Barrie puts in is incredible. He is all over the country working on our behalf.” Reading a transcript of Barrie’s nomination for a BEM in recognition of his work for his community, Mrs Swan said: “He has relentlessly lobbied Transport Scotland and the transport minister in his quest to see this part of the A1 made safer.
“In 1999, along with others, he was one of the lead drivers in trying to establish a local rail service between Edinburgh and Newcastle to benefit the community and eastern Borders with the re-opening of Reston and East Linton stations.
“New trains for East Linton and Reston are a step closer after services from the stops were written into the next ScotRail franchise. He organised local meetings and, after five years of local authority inaction, he and others took a petition to Parliament in 2002 with 1,862 signatures.
“He has been a key player in supporting MSPs and councillors’ efforts to understand the issues and articulate the case in Parliamentary debates and to Ministers.
“He was one of the earliest members of the community to see the potential benefits for tourism, and it is beyond doubt that the reopening of Reston station would provide a huge boost to the local economy.
“Adding to his list of commitments is recording the progress of Houndwood Crematorium. He is taking photographs of all stages of developmnent, including the newly contructed memorial garden so that there will be a genuine record of the process.”
Barrie told a packed village hall: “I’m overwhelmed at the number of people who have come today. It’s not only me – it’s a team of RAGES, the community council and Transport Scotland.
“Reston station can happen between 2019 and 2024. We at RAGES and in Berwickshire want to see it open in 2019 or 2020, so I want you to go home and write letters, saying we want it then.
“Thank you to everyone who arranged the presentation of my BEM at Reston and everyone who attended. It is a day I will remember for ever.”