A retired chaplain who dedicated his career to helping bereaved families across the north-east has been included in the Queen’s Honours.
James Falconer has been made an MBE for his services to parents and children coping with bereavement across Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray.
The 68-year-old, from Westhill, said it was a “great surprise” when he received the letter and he had “no inclination it was on the cards”.
Before retiring three years ago, Rev Falconer was a healthcare chaplain with NHS Grampian based in Royal Aberdeen Children’s Hospital.
During his time he set up the bereaved families support group for parents which would meet monthly and a candle service for parents every December.
Rev Falconer helped start the Grampian Child Bereavement Network – now known as Archie’s Child Bereavement Service – to help bereaved children.
He also founded the Brain Injury Grampian group, which continues supporting people to this day.
Working closely with families has been the ‘greatest privilege’
“That’s been probably the greatest privilege over all the years,” he said, “just sharing these moments with families.
“And often going on to conduct funerals, or to come back later if things go well and to perhaps celebrate with a baptism or to conduct a wedding for instance.”
The former chaplain was one of the driving forces behind the Robertson Family Roof Garden and the new staff garden at the Foresterhill Health Campus.
Although he retired three years ago, Rev Falconer has continued working in the gardens, describing it as an “amazing way” to help care for colleagues and staff.
“I wrestled with accepting the award,” he admitted. “But it has partly, in a sense, come about because I have been part of a really wonderful team of colleagues over the years.
“I’m thinking of my two heads of service Rev Fred Coutts and Rev Mark Rodgers, and my colleagues who have supported me throughout the years.”