Two dedicated Rotary Club members have received their organisation’s highest honour in recognition of their long-standing and varied volunteering in their community.
Martin Cairney and Janette Horn were each presented with the Paul Harris Fellowship in a special ceremony at Airdrie arts centre, in recognition of their outstanding and “significant contributions” through a variety of projects both close to home and further afield.
Both have been members of the Coatbridge, Airdrie and Monklands branch of the Rotary Club for nearly a decade, and received the prestigious honour from club president William Devoy and secretary Bill McMullen.
The double celebration came as a surprise to one recipient, with vice-president Martin believing he was attending to help present Janette's certificate and medal – only to find he was receiving the same honour himself.
He received the Fellowship in recognition of his work on projects ranging from tending to floral displays at Airdrie railway station, to supporting international microfinance scheme 'Lend With Care', which sees the local Rotarians provide small investment loans to assist entrepreneurs in developing countries.
Janette’s was honoured for her four decades of community work in her Airdrie hometown and further afield in roles including helping with Romanian aid charity Clann Sona and in welcoming children from Chernobyl to Scotland, as well as involvement with local women’s aid and residents’ groups.
Cairnhill resident Martin, who will become president of the Coatbridge, Airdrie and Monklands branch in July, said he was “absolutely gobsmacked” to receive the honour.
He told Lanarkshire Live : “I didn’t expect that at all.
"We’d made the award to Janette and then it was announced that there was another presentation to ‘someone who knows nothing about it’, and if we hadn’t had masks on the others would have seen me with my mouth wide open at that point!
“I’ve been part of Rotary since 2012 and one of the first projects I got involved with was helping to look after the tubs on platform three at the station and setting up a rota to keep them watered and fed.
“Since then I’ve been part of lots of local things, like fundraising for our projects and helping to bring in raffle prizes from businesses, and then stepping up to become vice president last year.”
He and club secretary Bill are the driving forces behind the branch’s involvement in Lend With Care, and Martin said: “It’s a brilliant thing.
"They do fantastic work in providing loans to entrepreneurs in countries like Peru and Ecuador, which might be for things like buying stock for a shop or setting up a sewing business or any other enterprise.
“We started out with £500, and now have £4000 invested with them; I compare it to the miracle of the loaves and fishes, as the money gets repaid and we loan it again so from that sum we’ve made loans of more than £16,000 over the years.”
He added: “There’s so much satisfaction in being part of Rotary and being able to do things for other people and put something back into society – I really enjoy it, and I never imagined I’d get the Paul Harris Fellowship.”
The prestigious award is named after the founder of Rotary International; and fellow branch member Janette was nominated for the honour by local members in recognition of a lifetime of helping her community in a host of different roles.
She helped to found the former Airdrie women’s aid organisation, ran an animal sanctuary for 15 years and has raised charity funds by donating proceeds from publishing books of her writing and poetry; and since becoming a Rotarian has taken the lead in organising the local group’s popular community Christmas lunch.
Janette said: “I love working with people and have done things like that all my life – I think whatever time we can give to others really makes a difference and by sharing that wee hour or 30 minutes, it helps others and brings people together.
“I’m really overwhelmed and overjoyed to receive this award; it was a complete shock when I was first told that I’d be receiving it, and it’s been a hard year so this has really lifted the spirits.
“There are lots of worthy people who do great things in their community and for charity, and I’m really delighted to get this and to have ben put forward by the club.
“We each received a beautiful medal and certificate, and I think it’s wonderful for our club to have two Paul Harris Fellows at the same time; it’s quite unusual but our club punches above its weight all the time.