Gorebridge woman’s delight at MBE award

Julia Lorrain-Smith.
Julia Lorrain-Smith.

Julia Lorrain-Smith from Gorebridge has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s birthday honours for services to the Children’s Hearings System and the local community.

The 73-year-old has been involved with the Children’s Panel since 1978, and has also been Depute Lord Lieutenant for Midlothian for 20 years.

Julia told the Advertiser of her delight at receiving the prestigious award.

She said: “I’m delighted and honoured of course. Surprised but honoured. I thought they had made a mistake!

“I see it really as a tribute to all the volunteers in the children’s hearing system.

“I always try to have the hearing system up there in lights, as it’s surprising the amount of people that don’t know the ins and outs of our unique system in Scotland.”

Julia has devoted many years’ service to the Children’s Panel, starting in 1978, seven years after its inception.

Utilising her great understanding of the needs of young people, she helped many to overcome their difficulties.

Speaking about being a panel member for 20 years and a panel practice advisor since 1998, she added: “I think it’s amazing. It was huge learning curve when I started but it has been a great experience.

“It’s satisfying when you see things going right, just like any job really. It was seeing the children that came back as a success story.

“That’s the best thing. Seeing whatever is put in place by the panel doing good or being of some use.

“The dedicated people in the system are quite amazing, as is the resilience of children. It’s quite an eye opener.

“I feel like I have had far more out of it than I put in.

“The panel members are the ones on the front line, making the decisions as a team. But us advisors are there to give feedback and are involved in the recruitment.

“It’s very nice to be involved around people that are like you, who all have the same desire to try and make some contribution to the welfare and well-being of children. That’s the bottom line really.”

Julia is a committee member and past chairwoman of The Royal Highland Educational Trust (Lothians Branch) – organising educational school visits to farms, largely for the benefit of underprivileged inner city children who had never seen a sheep or a cow, or understood where their food came from.

She added: “I have been involved since its fruition about 25 years ago. We go into the schools to tell pupils where their milk comes from. We try to arrange trips to farms for them.

“It’s grown arms and legs. I haven’t done so much in the last 18 months or so we also have a presence at local shows.”

Julia is still kept busy as Depute Lord Lieutenant for Midlothian. She said: “It’s a lovely role. You get to meet the most lovely old ladies and old gentlemen when they have their 100th birthday.

“It’s just wonderful. That’s my favourite thing. The Remembrance Sunday events are nice too.”

Julia was also previously involved with the Dalkeith and District Pony Club for youngsters.

She said: “It’s like the cubs or the guides. It’s for kids. It’s groups of young people learning how to be part of a team and look after their ponies as best they can.”

Julia is married to her husband Andrew. They have three daughters and four grandchildren.