A Scarborough man has been awarded the papal medal for distinguished service to the Roman Catholic Church.
Mick Thorpe, of Stone Quarry Road in Burniston, says he was “surprised and well pleased” to receive the honour, which is the highest medal that can be awarded to the laity by the Papacy.
He was presented with the award following Sunday morning mass at St Joseph’s Church in Newby, after being told by Father William Massie that he had a “nice surprise” for him.
Mr Thorpe, who set up Thorpe and Co solicitors in Scarborough, said: “I was so surprised - and my family and friends were all equally surprised and pleased.
“I believe it’s fairly unusual to receive one of these, but there have been others in Scarborough.”
Mr Thorpe was presented with the medal in recognition of his work with the Middlesbrough Catholic Diocese, which covers an area from Middlesbrough to Hull and inland as far as York.
He said: “I was one of the first lay trustees of the diocese and did about 10 years as a trustee in the 1990s.
“I was a member of the board, which was a mixture of lay and clerical members, led and chaired by the Bishop of Middlesbrough.
“It offered balanced governance in that area and I enjoyed it very much.”
Mr Thorpe has also been involved in the hospice movement for a number of years, which he believes may have also had a bearing on him being put forward for the medal.
He was a founder trustee of St Catherine’s Hospice in Scarborough and went on to become chairman of the National Hospice Group and Help for Hospices.
Mr Thorpe says he enjoyed the work, which he found both rewarding and demanding.
The Papal Medal is known as “Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice”, which translates from Latin as “For the Church and the Pope”.
It is also known as the “Cross of Honour”. The medal was established by Leo XIII on July 17, 1888, to commemorate his golden sacerdotal jubilee and was originally bestowed on those women and men who had aided and promoted the jubilee, and by other means assisted in making the jubilee and the Vatican Exposition successful. It is currently given for distinguished service to the church by lay people and clergy.