A Tayside man has been awarded the British Empire Medal for his humanitarian work in eastern Europe.
John McKellar was presented with his medal at the British Embassy in Chisinau, the capital of Moldova.
John, who is originally from Perth, is currently based in the Romanian capital of Bucharest, where he is running a new charity.
However, he was previously involved in aiding cancer sufferers in Moldova, widely regarded as Europe’s least developed nation.
His work there with Hospices Of Hope was so highly regarded that he was named among the top 10 most influential foreigners in the country, which lies between Romania and Ukraine.
The 36-year-old’s main role at that time was to raise awareness and funds to give free care to children and adults suffering from life-threatening diseases, mostly cancer. Each year, care is provided to more than 1,000 patients.
John had previously worked at the Daniel Centre in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, a home for abandoned boys and, following his stint in Moldova, is now back in Romania with a new charitable organisation named Bridging The Gap.
“Together with two other Brits, I set up the charity in January in order to help the smaller social projects in Romania that are short on skills and experience,” said John.
“We all remember the harrowing pictures of Ceausescu’s Romania in 1989 and, shortly thereafter, a huge influx of foreign aid and agencies flooded the country. Since joining the EU in 2007, only 10% of these overseas charities remain, but there is still a huge need in Romania. With EU membership brings the withdrawal of much-needed funds that used to be so ample here.
“As the government still has not got its act together with regard to the country’s vulnerable, it is vital these charities remain. Bridging The Gap was created to provide links to the country’s business community in order that the needs that are so apparent are met.”