CAB stalwart recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours

Ellen Phillips with letter from the Cabinet Office informing her she is to receive a British Empire Medal in Queen's Birthday Honours
Ellen Phillips with letter from the Cabinet Office informing her she is to receive a British Empire Medal in Queen's Birthday Honours

A long-serving Motherwell and Wishaw Citizens’ Advice Bureau volunteer has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Ellen Phillips is to receive a British Empire Medal (BEM) for her services to the community in Lanarkshire.

Rheumatoid arthritis meant Ellen couldn’t work and she was considering volunteering when Ray McQuarrie, then manager of Motherwell & Wishaw CAB, spoke at a Round Table meeting her husband George was at.

Ellen said: “George came home and said he’d found the perfect voluntary job for me, that was in 1989 and 28 years on he was absolutely right.”

She has served a number of roles including volunteer adviser, serving on the board of directors and chairing the people’s standing committee.

Nowadays she spends most of her time shaping and providing the training for CAB volunteers.

Ellen said: “This is my hobby, my husband bowls and golfs, but I can’t physically do that so I dedicate my time to the bureau.

“A lot has changed over the years, the biggest of course is going from everything being in books to computers, and the expansion of the bureau has enabled us to help a lot more people.

“However, at its heart the problems people need help with are still the same and it still means so much to play a part in providing that help.”

Ellen was nominated by the bureau and business development manager Alana Forsyth expressed their delight.

She said: “We are thrilled, Ellen has given unbelievable service to the CAB and we couldn’t be happier, no one deserves this recognition more.”

Ellen is just pleased she can now talk award the honour.

She said: “The letter arrived about five weeks ago and I was sworn to secrecy, so it is a such a relief to talk about it.

“I had no idea I had been nominated, it really was such a shock, but I’m more than thrilled.”

Ellen will receive her medal from the Lord Lieutenant of Lanarkshire and will be invited to the Buckingham Palace garden party in next summer.

Also receiving a British Empire Medal is Bellshill woman Alice Rankin, who has owned a cafe in Newarthill for 45 years, for her services to the community of Newarthill.

Journalist and author Damian Barr paid tribute to Alice on his Facebook page, recalling trips to The Tip Top (now called The Baker’s Oven) in his youth.

He said: “The biggest treat I could get when I was wee was a trip to The Tip Top, it was an empire of biscuits, a kingdom of cakes and all presided over by the impossibly glamorous Alice.

“The village has changed almost beyond all recognition, but Alice is still there and while I don’t care about Empire I do care about Alice and I’m thankful for all the care and joy she’s given me and the village over 45 years.”