News Update

Pakistan Easter 2013

I travelled to Pakistan on Sunday 10th March arriving in Sialkot at 9.00 pm on Monday 11th and was met by Catherine Nicol. I had gone to be with her on 23rd when she was due to receive the Tamgha-i- Qaid-i-Azam.  Week one was uneventful and I settled in to Catherine’s routine with the girls in school; it was the time of government 9th class and 10th class exams – external exams with girls going by transport to various locations. We also purchased fabric for her to be made into a shalwar chemise for the big ceremony. On Sunday 17th I spoke in Hunter Memorial Church to tell of the Award which Catherine had modestly not mentioned to anyone.

On Wed 21st March we managed to find out that the presentation would be in Lahore (not Islamabad as we has imagined). That evening walking to church for a service at 5.00pm Catherine fell and fractured her femur. The emergency services attended quite promptly and Catherine was taken to Memorial Christian Hospital where she was X-rayed. It was a very clear film with a very obvious fracture which the surgeon there said he was unable to deal with. She had also sustained a cut to her head and this was stitched while it was decided the best surgeon was Dr Nisar Chowdry who had his own hospital on Commissioner Road. Catherine was transferred there and it was agreed he would operate the next day after she had had some tests – at 75 she was considered ‘old’ by Pakistani standards. She had it pinned and plated on Thu 22nd evening under a spinal anaesthetic. Unlike UK operation had to be paid for in advance and I am very grateful that Mr Indryas Gill did that immediately, his wife who is a retired Nursing Sister with many contacts was there and stayed overnight with Catherine in hospital for several nights which we greatly appreciated.  Not only had money to be paid but blood had to be ‘banked’; the community was asked who had same blood group and one Christian volunteered and also a Medical Rep who happened to be delivering to a local pharmacy offered to donate when he heard he had the same blood group. In Pakistan relatives have to provide food for the patient and anyone staying with them so there was shuttle of food from Barahpatthar to the hospital for nearly two weeks.

After the weekend Catherine was transferred to the Christian Hospital of Dr Azeem which is at the beginning of the Cantonment (where Lillie’s Kothi was). He offered her accommodation there free of charge and it was hoped it would help control visiting. (She must have had hundreds of visitors most of whom prayed with her). She was the only patient in the ward most of the time. Transfer could only take place after the bill to Nisar Chowdry Clinic was paid in full which we managed with some money of Catherine’s and Mr Gill. After transfer Miss Rebecca one of the teachers slept overnight in the hospital with Catherine.

Visitors, I could not possibly count the number of people visited Catherine. They came in droves to pray, to offer gifts of fruit, food, milk, flowers and even money. Much of the fruit was taken back to Barahpatthar and shared with girls in boarding. During all this Catherine continued to smile, to be concerned for others to bless all who came. She never complained.

I had put out some info by email and on Facebook and greetings and messages of prayers and concern came from all around the world. Catherine while in hospital was asked if she would be organising the usual 500 hard boiled eggs for Hunter Memorial Church for after the 4.00am Easter service and she said ‘Of course’. I shared in organising this – the coloured eggs were collected by the elders at about 3.00am. I walked with the girls to the service at 4.00 am and by the time we arrived the church was quite full. About 500 attended that service at which Holy Communion was celebrated and about 700 attended the 11.00 am service.

Catherine was allowed home for Easter Day and because of poor electricity supply it was agreed she could stay overnight. By then we had put her bed up on bricks to raise it. It seems that she will probably be non weight bearing on left leg for several weeks, followed by partial weight bearing. Before she got home I organised a wheel chair, commode and walker. On Easter evening we had a meal with the hostel girls in Scott Hall (only 9th and 10th Class girls were there as the rest were on holiday) we were about 100 and it was a meal of pilau rice bought in. There was also cake or sweets from the gifts Catherine had received.

I was delighted Catherine could come home again on 2nd so that she could try all equipment before I left. On the 2nd the stitches were removed and the wound had healed well, catheter was also removed, I was glad this was done before I left.

I was sorry to leave so soon but have other commitments, I am grateful that Mr and Mrs Gill continue to be attentive and that Miss Rebecca will continue caring. Zaffar the cook will try his best to provide a nutritious diet (probably better than NHS Hospital food).

We can only hope Catherine will take and get some time for recovery and that when allowed be able to walk as well as before.

For all the care love and prayers she has rece4ived, thanks be to God.

Margaret Nutter

Prestigious Pakistani Award given to Scot

Catherine Nicol, who has been working as a Mission partner in Pakistan since 1961 has received an award from the President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The Tamgha-e-Quaid-e-Azam, or Medal of the Great Leader, is a civil award conferred by the Government of Pakistan on those who have attained academic distinction in the fields of science, art, literature, or distinction in the fields of sports and nursing; or for rendering dedicated services with selfless devotion in human rights and public service.
Catherine has been working in various roles in the education and nurture of Christian girls and young women. The award will be presented this Saturday 23rd March.
SOURCE: World Mission Council, The Church of Scotland

Catherine Nicol - Award
Scot given prestigious Pakistani presidential award
17 August 2012
A Church of Scotland missionary who has spent most of her life in Pakistan is to be honoured with a prestigious award in her adopted country.
Catherine Nicol arrived in Pakistan in 1961 and has been involved a number or roles in the education and nurture of Christian girls and young women. During the past 50 years Catherine Nicol has worked with and influenced thousands of girls and young women, many of them from poor and underprivileged backgrounds. The impact she has had on these women and their families is immeasurable.
In 2001 she retired and returned to Scotland. The then Convener of the Board of World Mission (the employing bod y within the Church of Scotland at the time) spoke of Miss Nicol’s “amazing record of service” and her “tremendous commitment and dedication” in tribute to Catherine Nicol at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 2001. So deep was her commitment to the people of Sialkot that she returned to Pakistan after fulfilling her obligations in Scotland away, and has been there ever since.
Andrew McLellan, Convener of the Church of Scotland’s World Mission Council, visited Pakistan in 2011 and witnessed firsthand the work that Catherine does. He said: “She lives in a girls’ hostel, St Columba’s RTC. I sat at her table and watched an unstoppable flow of people coming in and out all day with problems, questions and requests.
“These were not trivial matters: often the safety of a very vulnerable child was at stake. With patience and cheerfulness and in flawless Urdu (as far as I could tell) Catherine listened, thought and acted – over and over again.”
Catherine was awarded an MBE in the New Year Honours List in 2001. The award is given to members of the British diplomatic service and British citizens working in an oversea capacity, in her case “for services to the local community, Sialkot, Pakistan”.
The award from the President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Tamgha-e-Quaid-e-Azam, or Medal of the Great Leader, is a civil award conferred by the Government of Pakistan on those who have attained academic distinction in the fields of science, art, literature, or distinction in the fields of sports and nursing; or for rendering dedicated services with selfless devotion in human rights and public service.
Andrew McLellan added: “This is very exciting for us as this is a very high level of recognition indeed and the whole Church of Scotland should be celebrating this. Catherine left for Pakistan in 1961 and the sacrifice and contribution she has made to the lives of generations of people in Sialkot should not be underestimated.
“She did try to retire and move back to Scotland but found it impossible. That shows you the dedication she feels towards the people there.”
Wajid Shamsul Hasan, the High Commissioner for Pakistan in London, commented: “We are very proud that Catherine Nicol has won this award. We need more great people like her and there can be no doubt that the contribution she has made has been immense, irrespective of one’s religious beliefs.”
The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Rt Rev Albert Bogle commented, “On behalf of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland I extend congratulations and thanksgiving for this award to Catherine Nicol. Her example of service and humility is in the finest tradition of Christian service. Catherine is known and loved by many, many people in Scotland and Pakistan and all of us are delighted that her service and commitment has been recognised at the highest level in Pakistan”
The Church of Scotland’s presence in Pakistan goes back more than 150 years when the first Scottish missionary, Reverend Thomas Hunter, travelled with his wife Jane Scott and their baby son to Sialkot in January 1857.
The Hunter family were killed during the Indian Mutiny later that year, but they are commemorated at Hunter Memorial Church in Sialkot, a growing a vibrant place of worship to this day. Scots returned to Sialkot in 1861 and the Church of Scotland continues to be involved in education, health care and building the local Christian community.

For further information please contact:
Communications Department
Church of Scotland