Bute volunteers speak of Queen’s Honours pride

Anne Speirs and Winifred Muir.
Anne Speirs and Winifred Muir.

The two Bute women named in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list have spoken of their pride at being named as British Empire Medal recipients.

Cancer Research UK volunteer Winifred Muir from Rothesay, has been awarded a British Empire Medal for services to Cancer research. While Bute Museum curator Anne Speirs from Rothesay, received a British Empire Medal for services to education and historic heritage on Bute.

Anne Speirs (left), who has volunteered at Bute Museum for 47 years, and Winifred Muir (right), who volunteers at the Rothesay Cancer Research UK shop.

Anne Speirs (left), who has volunteered at Bute Museum for 47 years, and Winifred Muir (right), who volunteers at the Rothesay Cancer Research UK shop.

Both women were quick to thank others for their honour,

Anne, who has volunteered at the museum since she moved to the island in 1972 and been curator since 1992, said: “It feels a bit strange to get a medal for doing something I love. I found out about two months ago. They sent a letter asking if I would accept it. After a bit of thought I said ‘yes’ as I feel it’s a bit of an honour for the museum. I had to keep it a secret. I only told my husband.

“I was in Rothesay this morning and everyone was saying well done which was lovely.

“I hope to receive the medal in the museum with the whole team there in the next couple of months. I’m just one of a big bunch of volunteers and I feel they are all as hard working.

“So this is for the team. Lots of people put in lots of hours, it’s not just me.”

When Anne moved to Bute she was a teacher at Rothesay Primary School, and taught at all the primary schools on the island before retiring six years ago. She said: “It worked well together, teaching and being in the museum, I could organise visits. I find I can do more for people at the museum now. We do fabulous things with the school groups. We have had Victorian days when we had the kids in all day.

“It’s all about getting people who don’t visit museums to come in. Once they are in you get them hooked. I love being in the museum. It’s fun, not just educational. We want to get kids in to interact, engaging with the museum.”

Winifred Muir has been supporting what is now Cancer Research UK since 1992, and has volunteered at the charity’s Rothesay shop since she moved to the island in 2001.

She said: “Both my parents had cancer and during the time I have worked in the shop in Rothesay my husband Tom got lung cancer and survived. It’s played a very big part in my life.

“The work we do helps. All the money we raise here stays in Scotland. It all brings the death rate down. Early diagnosis saves lives. There has been a huge change in the 19 years I have been working here.

“I have had Parkinson’s Disease for six years and it gets progressively worse but the shop have been really good. They put up with me. It’s nice to get out to the shop and speak to people. Although, I can no longer deal with the clothes side of it due to my illness, I deal with homeware, which is easier for me.”

Winifred was also quick to thank her fellow volunteers at the Montague Street shop for receiving her honour. She said: “It was kind of surreal. The first thing I said when I opened the letter was who has put me forward for what now? I was really surprised. It was the last thing I expected really. I have to say a huge thank you to shop manager Anne Gordon and former manager Anna Harrison.

“I really feel that this honour is not just for me, it’s all the volunteers that work really hard and I would like them to know they are very much appreciated.

“I have had so many congratulations from many people. It’s quite unbelievable. It just shows what a great island we live on.”

Provost Len Scoullar has also congratulated the pair.