TWO pillars of the community have had their incredible efforts recognised during a ceremony at Haddington Town House.

Alastair Knowles and Archie Baird were joined by friends and family to receive their British Empire Medals (BEM).

Mr Knowles received his award for services to the community in his home town of Musselburgh.

Meanwhile, Mr Baird, a former long-serving curator of the Heritage of Golf Museum in Gullane and the author of several books on the history of golf, was recognised for his services to the history of golf.

Michael Williams, Lord Lieutenant of East Lothian, was on hand to present the medals to the pair at the ceremony, which was also attended by Angela Leitch, chief executive of East Lothian Council, and Provost John McMillan.

Mr Knowles was Town Champion at the 1991 Riding of the Marches in Musselburgh before being appointed chairman of the 2016 event. He is also the president of the Old Musselburgh Club and followed his uncle into the Boys’ Brigade in the mid-1950s.

Since then he has become a key part of the group, becoming a bugler and leading drummer in the Penicuik and Musselburgh Boys’ Brigade Pipe Band, which is organising a charity concert at The Brunton to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

The modest 72-year-old was quick to praise all those who had been involved in the Riding of the Marches and other groups throughout the years.

He said: “It is very much an honour to receive the BEM but humbling at the same time.

“Having been involved with so many people over the years, a lot of people in Musselburgh are equally deserving, especially people involved with the Riding of the Marches and the Boys’ Brigade.

“There are a lot of unsung heroes in the Boys’ Brigade who don’t get the recognition.

“It is both an honour and humbling occasion. It was not a chore to serve Musselburgh – it has been a pleasure.”

Musselburgh ward councillor Stuart Currie, also in attendance, offered his praise to Mr Knowles. He said: “He is one of those people in life where everybody has got a good word to say about him – that is pretty unique.

“Even before the Riding of the Marches, everywhere you go in Musselburgh he has been involved in it, from the Armistice parade through to a whole range of other things.

“I shared a carriage with him at the Riding of the Marches and there was still a nervousness about him. He would be the first to say it was a team effort.”

Mr Baird, 94, was surrounded by friends and family at the event.

He opened the Gullane museum in 1980 and handed over the keys to David and Gillian Kirkwood earlier this year.

The great-grandfather, who lives in Aberlady, said: “I’m delighted. [Documenting the history of golf] was something that had to be done.”

Mr Baird’s love of golf is connected to his wife Sheila – and some golf balls many years ago.

She previously told the Courier: “My great-grandfather was Willie Park, who won the first-ever Open Championship, and one day we were at a sale where Archie spotted some golf balls.

“They had Willie Park’s name on them and he bought them for about 10 shillings I think – that is where it all comes from.”

Mr Baird, who served as captain of Gullane Golf Club – where he is now an honorary life member – from 1976 to 1978, is also a member of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, based at Muirfield.

Ward councillor Jeremy Findlay was also at the ceremony and praised Mr Baird’s efforts.

He said: “He is one of the people responsible for keeping the history of golf in East Lothian right at the forefront of people’s consciousness.

“His collection is absolutely fantastic but it is his contribution to the history which is the main thing.

“He thoroughly deserves this award.”