Kirk elder who founded youth club made MBE

hazel
Hazel Ralston is an elder at Glasgow Cathedral.

The founder of a youth cafe who has been involved with the Church of Scotland all her life has been made an MBE.

Hazel Ralston, an elder at Glasgow Cathedral, was honoured for services to education and youth development in the city.

The 63 year-old, who established the youth cafe in 2009 while working as acting head teacher of Anderston Primary School, said she was "surprised and delighted".

But Mrs Ralston insisted that the success of Anderston Youth Café, which caters for people aged 11-15, would not have been possible without the hard work of other people.

"I was completely taken by surprise when I opened the letter informing me of the award," said the Bearsden resident who worked at the primary school for 31 years until she retired.

"I'm delighted to receive such an honour but I am very conscious that the club could not have been so successful without the help of others."

Self worth and care

Mrs Ralston, who is married to Andrew and has a daughter called Miranda, said she firmly believed that young people need a place where they will be listened to by adults, somewhere to enjoy themselves, socialise and learn useful skills.

She believes it is crucial that they develop a sense of self-worth and care for others while learning to be confident in working to bring about changes for the better in the community.

Explaining the genesis of the project, Mrs Ralston, a former Sunday school teacher and past trustee of the Asylum Seeker Outreach project in St Rollox Church, said: "Neighbours near the school had complained about under-age drinking and other anti-social behaviour in the evenings and weekends.

"Sadly, some of those engaging in these practices were former pupils at the school.

"It became clear that there was nothing for young people to do in the area unless they were interested in sports.

"I raised this matter with a former chief executive of Glasgow City Council who said 'there's no silver bullet.'

"This was the catalyst needed and I remember saying to a colleague, 'well, there's going to be a silver bullet in Anderston before I retire.'"

The cafe, which was originally housed in a former office building and kitted out with tables and chairs, computer equipment and games bought with grant money, was open on Thursday evenings between 5pm-9pm.

Sadly the building was demolished in 2015 and at the moment youngsters are meeting in a room in Sanctuary Housing Association Office.

Mrs Ralston said: "We're grateful to be able to meet there, but we're not able to carry out as many of the activities as we would like.

"We are now working towards finding new premises, to allow the young people to develop further and make space for more to attend."

Other people with links to the Church of Scotland were recognised on the Queen's Birthday Honours list.

Hospital chaplain

The Rev John Murdo Smith, a retired minister from North Uist, was awarded a BEM for services to the community in the Western Isles.

He said: "It was a very great surprise. I don't know who made the recommendation but I feel unworthy of it, I don't think I have done anything outstanding."

Mr Smith recently celebrated the 60th anniversary of his ministry, and was also the hospital chaplain in Lochmaddy for 32 years, set up the League of Friends for the hospital and, he admits, did 'so many other things I can't remember them all all'.

It was a double celebration for his family as his daughter, Christeen Smith, was appointed an MBE in the same list.

A senior clinical nurse specialist at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh, she was honoured for services to stoma patients.

Former Scottish Parliament presiding officer and Conservative MSP Alex Fergusson, the son of a Kirk minister, received a knighthood for services to politics and public life.

Celia Orr, a member of Greyfriars Church in Lanark, was made an MBE for services to Highland dancing and charity.

She runs a successful dance school whose shows have raised over £100,000 for local charities over the years.

Companion of the Order of the Bath

Heather Bisset, a former Aberdeenshire Councillor was made an OBE after 50 years in the Guides organisation and 15 years as Gordon Girl Guide's country president.

And David Woodrow, a newsagent in Bishopton, is to receive an MBE for his work with the Scouts. Currently district chairman for the Renfrewshire Scouts, he has previously served as a Scout leader and area commissioner.

The Chaplain General, Rev Dr David Coulter, was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB). He belongs to the Presbytery of England.