Decades of Dedication Recognised by Papal Award

Tuesday 7th January 2020

Pope Francis has awarded the Benemerenti Medal to Jim Hyndman, age 72, of St. Marie’s & St. Joseph’s Parish, Bury. Jim received the award for services to the Catholic Church, to education and the local community.

The Benemerenti Medal is an honour awarded by the Pope for service to the Catholic Church. Originally established as an award to soldiers in the Papal Army, the medal was later extended to the clergy and the laity. Literally translated Benemerenti means ‘well merited, or person of ‘good merit.’ Jim was nominated for the award by his son, Dom, and former parish priest, Fr. Francis Wadsworth.

He has served his parish and local community in Bury with dedication for number of years. Alongside the support that he has given to the sick and housebound of his parish, he was governor at St. Gabriel’s High School where he served for 32 years until 2017, a large part of that time as Chair of Governors. He was also Chair of the PTA, helping to organise and run many fundraising and other events. Much essential equipment was provided from these events including a new minibus for the school.

Jim has also served as a governor at St. Marie’s Primary School. where he was Chair of Governors for much of the 20 years’ service he gave.

As well as his roles in education, Jim has also been very much involved in his local community, serving as a voluntary member of the Greater Manchester Police Authority and helped in other voluntary organisations.

In 1991 Jim was appointed as a Justice of the Peace, serving voluntarily at Bury Magistrates Court for 23 years. In 2009 he was appointed Chairman of the Bench, he served in this role until 2014 when he stepped down to spend more time with his grandchildren and family.

Recently Jim successfully applied for £250,000 of Heritage Lottery Funding for repairs to the bell tower and roof of the Grade II listed St. Marie’s Church in Bury town centre. What made this achievement extraordinary was that Jim completed the rigorous and challenging application process whilst undergoing treatment at The Christie for cancer, at times attending meetings with architects on his way to hospital for chemotherapy treatment. On top of his own diagnosis Jim and wife of 49 years, Susan, were also caring for their daughter Helen who had herself been diagnosed with cancer.

The family kept news of the award secret from Jim and wife Susan right up until the moment that is was presented during a private Mass with Fr. Francis Wadsworth on Saturday 14th December.

On receiving the award Jim said that he was “truly humbled and thankful to receive this great honour from the Holy Father.” He also said that “the old saying goes that ‘behind every great man is a great woman’, but I have a Superwoman next to me in Susie and I thank her for her love and support.”

On Sunday 15th December the medal was re-presented to Jim by new parish priest Fr. Bill Foley at a full St. Maries Church where a standing ovation was given by friends and parishioners.

We send our thanks and prayers to Jim for his service and commitment over the years. 

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