Martyn’s marvellous medal celebrations

IT was a joyous occasion at St Augustine of Canterbury Catholic Church in Downend when Martyn Poole was awarded his British Empire Medal.

Hundreds of people turned out to see Martyn receive the award from the Lord Lieutenant of Gloucestershire, Dame Janet Trotter, at the end of a service of thanksgiving.

The congregation rose to give him a prolonged and richly deserved standing ovation in recognition of his decades of service feeding the hungry in Bristol as well as more recently in India.

Martyn aged 66, of Meadow Close, Downend, was a founder member of the Bristol Soup Run Trust, which for more than 25 years has been taking food, hot drinks, soup, blankets and other practical help to people living on the streets of the inner city. He leads a team of volunteers who go out every other Saturday night to seek out and support those in need.

They encourage people on the streets to get back in touch with their families and to try to get their lives back on track.

After retiring as an engineer with British Aerospace, Martyn also began helping Haven Home in India. He has raised more than £50,000 in five years to build and equip a school at the orphanage and create a medical centre for people from neighbouring villages.

He is also a governor of St Augustine of Canterbury Primary School and a member of Downend and Bromley Heath Parish Council.

Parish priest Father Frank Bermingham said Martyn always saw the good in people and told him he should be proud of his work, which was following the example of Christ.

The British Empire Medal was reintroduced to the honours system last year to mark the Queen’s diamond jubilee. It is awarded to people who have made a difference to their community through voluntary work and leadership.

The Deputy Lord Lieutenant Jane Jenner-Fust said Martyn was a perfect example because of his infectious enthusiasm.

“His selflessness and dedication has helped him reach out and motivate others. He has enriched the lives of many people over a considerable period,” she said.

Martyn, who chose the hymns and readings for the service, said the event was an opportunity to celebrate all those who had been involved in fundraising and practical support for both projects. Children from St Augustine’s Primary and Silverhill School took part in the offertory procession.

Afterwards, at celebrations in the school hall, Monsignor Bernard Massey, who was parish priest between 1996 and 2006, joined the tributes, saying he wished Martyn’s enthusiasm could be bottled.

“I have seen him take off his coat and give it to someone who needed it,” he said. “He leads from the front but he is a real team player. It is a privilege to know him.”

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