A MAN who has been a faithful servant for 50 years at the Church of Our Lady and St Joseph’s in Selkirk, is to be honoured at a special ceremony in the church on Saturday.

Douglas Turnbull, who is 73, will receive the Benemerenti Medal (Papal Medal) in recognition of his 50 years, from Archbishop Leo Cushley at the weekly Mass.

Douglas (known as Dougie) is described as ‘a man through and through’ and has been a parishioner at the church from his birth in 1949.

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He grew up in a strong Roman Catholic family environment and had a strong grounding in the Catholic faith, which has shown throughout his life in the church and community.

He also received his first sacraments of Baptism, Confession, Holy Communion and Confirmation in the church.

Church member, Peter Birney, said that Dougie’s 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,” said Mr Birney.

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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.

St Joseph’s then moved to join Galashiels and Melrose before an alliance with Hawick and then returning to the present cluster.

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, and he always made sure that the altar was correctly set up, the vestments were laid out, and the appropriate sacred vessels, chalice and ciborium were to hand. 

Mr Birney, in his letter to the Archbishop, said: “If St Peter was the rock on which Christ built his church, then Dougie Turnbull is one of its most supportive pillars.

“Dougie always had a deep-seated love of his faith and always had a steadying hand on the tiller of the parish as the parish went through the good times and, more recently, the uncertain times.

“He has embraced the many changes and challenges, which the parish has faced in recent years and has been the source of advice and guidance for many of his fellow-parishioners.”