Church organist John awarded British Empire Medal

By Michael Upton | 09/02/2018

Church organist John awarded British Empire Medal
John Marsden with his BEM certificate and medal.

A COMMUNITY stalwart awarded the British Empire Medal followed savoured the sweet taste of public recognition — before spending the following day up to his elbows in marmalade.

John Marsden, long-serving church organist and chairman of Tickhill Together, was formally presented with his BEM in a ceremony at Doncaster's Mansion House on Monday.

Reflecting on this week’s civic ceremony, he insisted he shared the honour with his whole home town.

“It was an exciting moment,” he said.

“I felt I was accepting it on everyone’s behalf.

“It was an honour to be able to take up to 12 guests so I had someone from Finningley School to mark when I was head there, from Fishlake, where I ran the choir, and a number of people from Tickhill.” 

Mr Marsden (69) was awarded the BEM for services to the community of Tickhill in the Queen's Birthday Honours last year. 

Family and friends accompanied him to the special occasion, which was also attended by Mayor of Doncaster George Derx, and he will be invited to a garden party at Buckingham Palace later in the year.

Tickhill-born Mr Marsden, the son of the late Bernard and Lily Marsden, has been organist and choirmaster at St Mary’s Parish Church since 1983 and was headteacher at Finningley Church of England Primary School until 2005. 

A founder member of the Tickhill Together group of volunteers, which he helped to form over ten years ago, Mr Marsden continues to lead the hard-working team but plans to retire from the role later this year.

He has played a key role in organising the town’s popular annual scarecrow festival, the annual late night shopping event and community Christmas lights switch-on and a recent successful 1940’s Day.

Mr Marsden is also the leader of the St Mary's Parish Church handbell ringing team, which he established around ten years ago and puts on various events for charity, including  Sunday dinners at his Sunderland Street home.

He is also responsible for running Mother Teresa Knitting Group founded by his mother Lily and co-ordinates members’ efforts to produce warm clothes and blankets for needy people at home and abroad. 

Mr Marsden was recognised by his fellow residents in 2016 when he was the winner of the town’s Community Award.

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