Elder made OBE for fairer finance work

Sheila Nicoll
Sheila Nicoll

A Church of Scotland elder who has been at the forefront of an organisation which aims to show banks and pay day lenders a fairer approach to finance has been made an OBE.

Sheila Nicoll, secretary of Churches Mutual Credit Union Ltd, has been recognised for services to financial services and voluntary service on the Queen's New Years Honours list.

CMCU offers ethical investments for regular rainy day savings accounts and larger lump sum deposits, for anyone who holds a recognised position in a paid or voluntary capacity within six church denominations.

It also offers loans from £250-£15,000 for a variety of purposes at competitive interest rates. Membership is also open to churches and charities within the common bond.

Huge honour

Mrs Nicoll, an elder at St Columba’s Church of Scotland in London and head of public policy of asset management company, Schroders, said: “I feel hugely honoured, humbled and excited to have received this.

“I have been very fortunate to have been able to bring together my professional experience in financial services and my faith life in supporting the church’s work to promote more responsible finance.

“I have also worked with some great people.

“ It has been thrilling to be part of establishing Churches Mutual Credit Union, a unique collaboration between denominations, and to see it grow”.

CMCU was launched in 2015 in London by former Moderator of the General Assembly the Very Rev Dr John Chalmers, Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, and the President of the Methodist Conference, the Rev Ken Howcroft.

The United Reformed Church has since joined the organisation.

Speaking at the time of the CMCU launch, Dr Chalmers said: "A new player in the marketplace will help to influence the financial services industry, and to put first the needs and consideration of all."

Richly deserved

Ninety-eight people in Scotland have been recognised by the Queen on the New Year Honours list for their tireless and dedicated service to their local communities.

Jimmy Muirhead, vice-president of the Buchan Battalion of the Boys’ Brigade, has been made an MBE.

The Fraserburgh Old Parish Church elder has been a member of the BBs since 1944 when he joined as an eight-year-old boy.

The nomination to the honours committee focussed on his five decades of service to the 1st Fraserburgh Company, and his tireless work as a training officer in the Buchan Battalion and around Scotland.

Michael Stachan, president of the Buchan Battalion, said he was delighted by the news and the gong was “richly deserved” and long overdue.

“Lieutenant Muirhead is a stalwart of the BBs in the Buchan Battalion, his immense contribution over many years is impossible to quantify.”

George Powell, a member of Troon Old parish Church and captain of 1st Troon, has been made an MBE for services to the Boys' Brigade and the community in Ayrshire.

Christine Johnston of Kilsyth Anderson Church and captain of Third Kilsyth Boys' Brigade has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to young people and the community in Kilsyth.

Inverness Ness Bank Church member Margaret MacBean, Captain of 4b Cauldeen Girls' Brigade, has been awarded a BEM for services to young people in Inverness.

Jean Munro, also a member of the congregation, received the same award in recognition of her many decades of community work and talents for spectacular flower arrangements for a raft of organisations.

Ness Bank Church minister Rev Fiona Smith said the congregation was "very proud" that the two women had been honoured by the Queen.

Overwhelmed and humbled

Derek Norval from Bearsden was awarded a BEM for services to music in East Dunbartonshire.

The 69-year-old is an organist at St Paul’s Church in Milngavie.

He was also principal teacher of music and then course director of the Music School in Douglas Academy in Milngavie for 35 years, retiring in 2014.

Master craftsman Tom Young has been made an MBE after 60 years working as a glassblower

The 78-year-old, a member of Bridge of Allan Parish Church, is the co-founder, Angels’ Share Glass in the town.

Mr Young said: “I’m overwhelmed, humbled and very grateful for this award which I never expected to receive and had no idea I had been nominated for.

“Glassmaking is my passion in life and is something that I have done and enjoyed doing for the past 60 years.”

Alistair Strachan, who has been the session clerk at New Byth and Cuminestown Church for more than 30 years, has been made an MBE for services to farming and the community in Cuminestown, Aberdeenshire.

Ranald Mair, former convener of the Safeguarding Committee of the Church of Scotland, has been made an OBE in recognition of his service to social care and social work.


Sheena Lamond, manager of the media kitchen at the James Hutton Institute in Invergowrie, Dundee, has been awarded a BEM for services to agricultural science.

She is a member of Inchture Church and lives in Coupar Angus.

Mrs Lamond said: "I was absolutely thrilled and gobsmacked when I received a letter from the Cabinet Office and at first I thought it was a pension quote.

"I have worked there for 45 years, I started straight out of school and worked my way up.

"It is the only job I have ever had and the honour is recognition for the work carried out by people who are not academic staff."

Last year the congregation at Inchture Church celebrated the 50th anniversary of Mrs Lamond's work with the Sunday School of which she is now superintendent.

Right Rev Dr Russell Barr, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said: “I am glad to add my own congratulations to members who have received awards in the New Year’s Honours List

“As well as bringing pleasure to their immediate circle of family and friends, I am sure the award has given a lot of pleasure to the groups, organisations and communities with which they have been involved.”

Pride and inspiration

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon added: “The Queen’s New Year Honours list provides richly deserved recognition for Scots who have shown outstanding service in their chosen fields and admirable dedication in their local communities.

“Every one of us in Scotland should take pride in and inspiration from those who have gone above and beyond in serving their local communities and whose achievements are rightly celebrated today.”