Published: 17/06/2010 00:00 - Updated: 29/11/2011 16:40

North campaigners honoured

TWO well-known Sutherland people have been recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.

Former bed and breakfast operator Joan Campbell of Melvich and Golspie farmer Angus McCall both receive the MBE.

Mrs Campbell's honour is for her services to skills development in the tourist industry in Scotland.

For some years she represented tourism on the board of the North Highland College UHI and was closely involved in the planning and development of its training hotel in Dornoch, Burghfield House.

"When I retired from the industry two years ago I stepped down from that, but then they asked me to help develop their BA degree in tourism and hospitality," Mrs Campbell told the NT this week. "I thought very hard about that, but I decided to take it on because tourism is so important to the Highlands and we must have people with the right skills and training.

"I have found it really hard work, but well worth it. Just a few weeks ago I organised an event in Inverness to introduce the new degree to the tourism industry. It was extremely well attended and went very well. Now we are looking forward to validation of the degree in October."

Mrs Campbell revealed that, unwittingly, she very nearly missed out on her honour.

"The letter nearly went in the bin," she confessed. "It arrived at the tail end of the election campaign, and anything like that I normally chuck aside without looking at it properly. Fortunately I opened it, and I couldn't believe what it said."

Originally from Kirtomy near Bettyhill, Mrs Campbell ran The Sheiling Guest House in Melvich for 40 years until her retirement two years ago. She and her husband Hugh still live in the village. In 2003 The Sheiling was awarded a coveted five-star rating by VisitScotland - one of very few B&Bs ever to achieve that distinction. In 2007 Joan herself was awarded the Scottish Silver Thistle for her outstanding contribution to tourism.

Mrs Campbell is still a member of VisitScotland's quality and standards overseeing committee, and is the tourism representative for the Highlands and Islands region of the Federation of Small Businesses. She is also on the board of the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards and represents the UHI Millennium Institute on the Highland Area Tourism Partnership.

In her retirement Joan has also found time to write two books: Heads on Pillows, an account of her time as a B&B operator, and a novel called The Land Beyond The Green Fields. For the past six years she has been writing the popular Tourism Matters column for the Northern Times.

Angus McCall, of Culmaily Farm, Golspie, was honoured for services to tenant farming in Scotland.

"It came completely out of the blue, but it was a very pleasant surprise," he said this week. "I'd love to know who proposed me!"

Mr McCall (59) has been chairman of the Scottish Tenant Farmers Association since it was set up in 2004. "As time goes on we are getting more and more involved with other organisations and the Scottish government, and we seem to be getting busier and busier," he said.

He pointed out that all the directors of the STFA put in a lot of hard work. "It is a team effort," he said.

* Alastair Bruce of Crionaich, whose parents Henry and Vernon used to own Sallachy Estate near Lairg, has been awarded the OBE for services to the Territorial Army, in which he is a lieutenant colonel.

Alastair (49), who now lives in London, is a former lieutenant with the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards.

In 1983 he erected a cairn at Sallachy, above Loch Shin, in memory of his orderly who died at Tumbledown Mountain during the Falklands War.

Guardsman James Reynolds (19) from Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire, was at that time the only soldier to be awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal posthumously. He died while bringing back a wounded comrade, who survived.

At the time Mr Bruce said: "On returning to Britain after the Falklands, I decided I wanted to do something in honour of Jim Reynolds. He was such a brave young man who was well liked by everyone."

Mr Bruce is a herald in the English College of Arms, with the grand title Fitzalan Pursuivant of Arms Extraordinary. He broadcasts on British constitutional and historical matters and commentates on national events for Sky TV. He has documentaries for ITV, including Victoria and Albert, Nicholas and Alexandra and Days of Majesty. He is also a member of the Royal Company of Archers, the Queen's bodyguard in Scotland.

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