The driving force behind a local community centre was presented with the highest honour a voluntary group can receive this week.
Members of the organisation which runs Dennyloanhead’s popular Archibald Russell Centre were presented with a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service by the Lord Lieutenant of Falkirk Marjory McLachlan and Provost Pat Reid on Tuesday night.
Along with Anne Montgomery and Gregor Wilson, Marie Bishop is one of the remaining original volunteers involved in the founding of the centre, which opened in 2001 and is now run by the 13-strong team at Dennyloanhead Community Hall Ltd.
Marie said: “This is one of the few centres in the area which is run by volunteers from the community and we are exceptionally proud to receive this honour. I don’t think we realised how important this award was until the Lord Lieutenant presented it to us.
“All those who were there for the presentation evening were people who helped us earn this recognition – volunteers, staff and hall users.”
The equivalent of an individual receiving an MBE, the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service was launched in 2002 to celebrate Her Majesty’s Golden Jubilee. This year 187 charities, from 370 nominated, were selected to receive the award.
To be nominated for the award, which is a certificate signed by the Queen and a glass crystal, organisations must provide a service and meet a need for people living in the local community, while being recognised and respected.
The Archibald Russell Centre certainly falls into that category – for over a decade it has been a vital part of the community, providing a wide variety of activities including classes for babies and toddlers, scouts, martial arts, dancing and keep fit and giving people an attractive venue to gather for functions and special events.
The centre came into being at the turn of the century when a management committee was formed to look at the amenities of the area and came up with a plan to replace the old Dennyloanhead Hall.
Thanks to a generous donation of £100,000 from local housebuilder Archibald Russell they were able to get a grant from the National Lottery Charity Board of nearly £300,000.
The Falkirk Council-designed state-of-the-art facility was constructed shortly afterwards and officially opened by MSP Denis Canavan on September 9, 2001.