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Retired police inspector given MBE

Arnold Duncan dedicated three decades of his life to police service. Photo: Chris Cope/ShetNews

RETIRED police inspector and honorary sheriff Arnold Duncan has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

The 68 year old said he was “completely surprised” and “very touched” to have been selected to receive the honour.

The Scalloway resident first joined the police force in 1966 as a boy clerk before retiring 30 years later having previously been promoted to inspector.

After retiring, Duncan served as the chairman for the Scalloway Community Council between 1996 and 2011, while he also led the Scalloway Waterfront Trust.

He now acts as a tour guide in the summer months, covering areas such as the west side and Sumburgh.

Duncan saw it all as a member of the local police force, from everyday crime to dealing with the Provisional IRA’s failed assassination attempt of the Queen when she opened the Sullom Voe oil terminal in 1981.

When asked about his career highlights, Duncan said: “There’s been so many. There’s been all sorts of people to deal with, and I’ve been involved with planning royal visits to Shetland.

“One of the main issues were probably the offshore incidents, while of course we had air accidents.

“I was also seconded for a period in the 1980s for the Sullom Voe terminal, because their security officer had to leave.

“Until they got a replacement, I filled the gap in there. The Queen, Prince Phillip and the late King Olav of Norway came here in 1981 to open to the terminal. That’s when we had the bomb in the terminal, so that was quite an interesting enquiry, at a difficult time.”

Duncan is now in his 14th year as an honorary sheriff at the Lerwick Sheriff Court, filling in for regular sheriff Philip Mann when he is unable to attend.

“It’s not an easy role,” he said, “because you’re dealing with people’s liberties.”

The Scalloway man is joined by fellow Shetlanders Greta Hartley and Valerie Johnson in the honours list, who both received BEMs.

Duncan, however, is unaware who nominated him for the MBE, which was awarded for his services to the Constabulary Court Service and the Shetland community.

And it seems he will still be none the wiser in the coming weeks and months.

“Whoever nominated me knew a great deal about me,” he said.

“They said they couldn’t tell me who it was. It could be someone local, but I don’t know – and I may never know.”

Duncan first learned about the MBE after receiving a letter from the Cabinet Office in May, but he was told to keep quiet until the honours list was announced in early June.

“I was sworn to secrecy, and I never told any soul,” he said. “I’m pretty good at keeping secrets.”