A Parishioner has received the Benemerenti Medal for 50 years' service at Our Lady and St Joseph’s in Selkirk.

Douglas Turnbull (73), received the Papal Medal from Archbishop Leo Cushley at the parish Vigil Mass on Saturday, with parish priest Andrew Kingham and family and friends present.

Douglas has been a parishioner at the church from his birth in 1949, and received the sacraments of Baptism, Confession, Holy Communion and Confirmation there.

Fellow parishioner Peter Birney said that Douglas' altar service started when he was six years’ old and continued until his early 20s when he met and married his wife.

“Dougie helped his father in the daily upkeep of the Church and grounds and during the winter months, the lighting of the coal-fired heating central heating boiler was a weekly occurrence,” he said.

In 1981, Dougie took over the reins and has been caretaker, pass-keeper and maintenance man ever since and he has kept the church, house and hall wind and watertight.

As vice-chairman and then chairman of the then Parish Council, Dougie was closely involved in all aspects of Parish life, including the setting up of rotas and systems for the weekly collection counters. Latterly, he took on the role of Sacristan

The Benemerenti Medal is awarded by the Pope to members of the clergy and laity for outstanding service to the Catholic Church.

Former parish priest Nick Welsh (now vice rector of Scots College in Rome) first petitioned for Douglas to receive the award.

Original article by John Hislop, Southern Reporter .