Joe’s delight as he receives his MBE

Joe O'Raw, with wife Mary, at Holyrood to receive his MBE
Joe O'Raw, with wife Mary, at Holyrood to receive his MBE

Craigneuk man Joe O’Raw has spent decades shining a spotlight on the brave men who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Last week he took centre stage as the 82-year-old was presented with an MBE by the Queen at Holyrood Palace in recognition of his services to military history in Lanarkshire.

When Joe was a boy he passed New Stevenston War Memorial every day and reflected on the deaths of men whose surnames matched those of his classmates at his primary school in the village.

As he grew older he became determined to find out about as many of the Lanarkshire war dead as possible, and his quest has revealed the stories of roughly 3,000 war dead, who might otherwise have been forgotten.

Joe, who recently contributed to a series of articles about World War One in the Times & Speaker, was the driving force behind the publication of books such as The Fallen of Motherwell District 1914-18 which gives a mini biography of every local soldier killed during the Great War.

And in 2012 the names of almost 250 servicemen were inscribed on the new Craigneuk Cenotaph after Joe and fellow campaigners raised £65,000.

He said: “I want to thank everyone who has supported me over the years and I was delighted to take receipt of this honour.

“It was lovely to meet the Queen and if I’m going to receive a medal then the centenery of the outbreak of World War One seems an appropriate time.”