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James 'Flicker' Duncan accepts British Empire Medal at Forres Tolbooth

By Garry McCartney

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James 'Flicker' Duncan with his British Empire Medal medal and letter of award. Picture by KDis.
James 'Flicker' Duncan with his British Empire Medal medal and letter of award. Picture by KDis.

A WELL-known local citizen has finally received his British Empire Medal (BEM) for services to charity.

James 'Flicker' Duncan was informed of the award in the Queen's New Year's honours list, released on Friday, December 27, 2019 and should have received it in March but the first coronavirus lockdown meant this was not possible.

However, on Friday, December 18 Lord Lieutenant Major General Seymour Monro made the presentation outside the Tolbooth in front of a small, socially distanced crowd of friends, family and onlookers.

Flicker said: "I'm over the moon - I never thought this would happen to me. It's great to be James Duncan BEM but the title won't change me!

"I'm accepting the honour on behalf of for all the volunteers I've worked with over the years. There's too many of them to mention but I'm grateful to them all."

He added: "I think we should help others as much as we can. I enjoy doing it and getting involved with anything going on in Forres."

For decades, Flicker has been a volunteer and fundraiser for local charities. Since 2003, he has run annual golf competitions to raise funds for them, as well as Forres Christmas Lights Committee, Forres In Bloom and Forres Mechanics Football Club.

The former builder built a well at Forres Golf Course and was chairman of Forres Heritage Trust (FHT) when it secured ownership of the Tolbooth by community asset transfer from the Moray Council. Under his leadership, FHT won the Scottish Heritage Angel Award in 2015.

Flicker is a member of the Forres Community Activities Association and was was made a Burgess of Forres in 2012.

Lord Lieutenant Major General Seymour Monro was full of praise for his friend.

He said: "I have known Flicker for many years and admire his extraordinary voluntary efforts on behalf of The Oaks, MacMillan Cancer Support and Riding for the Disabled, but above all for what he has achieved for the people of Forres.

"He galvanised action when the floral displays in Forres were under threat. He personally renovated the fountain in the Sunken Gardens. He repaired vandalised gravestones in Cluny Hill Cemetery and built the memorial cairn at the former RAF Mundole base.

"It was Flicker who mustered support for the Forres Christmas Lights Committee when it was in danger of collapse-and look at the display today!

"He has been first among equals in a community which is outstanding at volunteering. An inspiring leader, tremendous example and hardworking volunteer, I was honoured to invest James Duncan on behalf of Her Majesty for his voluntary service over many decades."

Moray Councillor George Alexander (Forres, Independent) was also happy to see his fellow FHT volunteer rewarded for all his hard work.

He said: "The original plan was to have a presentation and reception in the renovated Tolbooth courtroom but the restrictions have never been eased sufficiently to allow that to take place.

"I only need to look at what Flicker has done for the community to realise that he is a worthy recipient of the BEM.

"Flicker has lived his life with the aim of doing all he can for his native town. He represented the town in football and cricket in his youth and he spent his working life in the area, but most of all he is known for his boundless generosity.

"No request for help was ever refused by Flicker and it is during times such as we are living through now, that we really appreciate how much we need that generosity of spirit. By his example, Flicker has been an inspiration to many."

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