Couple receive top honour for commitment to voluntary work

Kenny and Jeanette Marshall with their awards. Photo by Gordon Fraser
Kenny and Jeanette Marshall with their awards. Photo by Gordon Fraser

A Midlothian husband and wife team have been honoured at a ceremony in the House of Lords for almost 50 years of community work.

Jeanette and Kenny Marshall were the only Scottish people to recently receive one of the country’s highest accolades, the British Citizens Award.

For the past four decades, the Marshalls, who live in Carnethie Street, Rosewell, have run the village youth club at the local pavilion.

Jeanette (62), a laundry linen assistant at the Midlothian Community Hospital, said: “It’s an amazing feeling being awarded a BCA for something that has given me so much joy throughout the years.

“It’s an even better feeling being able to share this award with my husband, because without our teamwork the success of the youth group would not have been possible.”

The couple started a youth club together – aimed at seven to 15-year-olds – in their local village. Now, 47 years on, the club still meets once a week during term time with an average attendance of 20 youngsters.

The youth group has remained successful due to its energy, enthusiasm, compassion and willingness of others to volunteer. It offers young people a range of activities in a village which has poor transport links in the evening.

With two daughters and four grandchildren, Jeannette and Kenny have stayed sensitive to the needs of the young people in their village. They have seen many drastic changes in the community, but the vibrancy of the youth group still lives on. Activities are designed to boost the children’s confidence and experiences.

Kenny (65), who was a member of the nursing staff at Rosslynlee Hospital, said: “Being honoured with a BCA alongside my wife is an indescribable feeling. Our main goal is to bring happiness and excitement to children, and the youth group we started together is doing just that. We want every child to feel like they’re in a comfortable and supportive environment so they’re able to develop, grow and learn new skills.”

Jeanette added: “I said I would do the youth club until my daughters left the club. They are now in their 40s and my grand-daughters now attend.”

Kenny, who is a disability panel member at HM Courts and Tribunal Service, first thought the email about their nomination was a scam. “We thought we would probably not hear any more and that it was not genuine but five weeks later we received notication that our application had been successful.”

The couple, with their links to Lasswade Athletics Club, also find time to be technical officials with the Forth Valley Young Athletics League. Kenny has been president of the league since 1992.