British Empire Medal presented for services to kayaking and canoeing in Scotland

A Perthshire woman has recently been presented with the British Empire Medal (BEM) for her services to kayaking and canoeing in Scotland.

Mrs Mary Kidd Conacher received the honour on Friday 1 November 2019 in a special ceremony organised at Perth & Kinross Council headquarters, with the medal presented by the Lord-Lieutenant of Perth and Kinross, Stephen Leckie, as Her Majesty the Queen's representative; and friends, family and guests welcomed to a civic reception by Perth and Kinross Provost Dennis Melloy.

Mrs Conacher has become a leading light in both Perth and Kinross and Scotland, not only for kayaking and canoeing but also in the development of outdoor access rights. As well as training to become a senior canoeing instructor after getting hooked on the sport and competing at a Scottish, UK and European level, Mary was raising a family and running her cafĂ© and bakery business. 

Mary then got involved in efforts to seek a resolution to issues arising around access to land and water rights, as the first volunteer access officer with the Scottish Canoe Association in the mid-1980s, where she worked tirelessly to improve matters, with the introduction of the Land Reform Act in 2004 something she warmly welcomed.

Mary continues to contribute to work on outdoor access matters through the Perth & Kinross Outdoor Access Forum, on which she is the longest serving member.

The Lord-Lieutenant commented: "It was a real pleasure to award this British Empire Medal to a very deserving Mary Conacher. What a delightful family and group of friends, such great company. The introduction by Deputy Lord-Lieutenant Charlie Gallagher covered many aspects of Mary's life - what an impressive story. We hope Mary will enjoy wearing her badge with great honour and pride."

The Provost said: "It was a great pleasure to welcome Mrs Conacher to 2 High Street for the presentation of the British Empire Medal, an honour she richly deserves for her commitment to encouraging people, and particularly people with disabilities to take part in kayaking and canoeing - sports which Perth and Kinross is well suited to with many miles of waterway to enjoy. Moreover, her work to support access to the outdoors for all, and her continued enthusiasm cannot be underestimated."