A FORMER magistrate has been awarded a rare and prestigious honour by the Pope for his incredible work in eduction and the community, and for his service to the Catholic Church.

Jim Hyndman, aged 72, received the Benemerenti Medal from Pope Francis, which he was presented during a private mass by the former priest of St Marie’s St. Joseph’s Parish, Father Francis Wadsworth, and his son Dom.

The medal ­— which means well merited, or person of good merit ­— was originally established as an award for soldiers in the Papal Army and later extended to the clergy and laity.

Mr Hyndman's family kept the award a secret from him and his wife of 49 years, Susan, right up until the moment it was presented.

A second representation was then held the following day by the new parish priest, Father Bill Foley, at a full St Marie's Church, where a standing ovation was given by friends and parishioners.

Bury Times:

On receiving the award, Mr Hyndman said he was “truly humbled and thankful to receive this great honour from the Holy Father”, adding: “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.”

Mr Hyndman has spent decades serving his parish and community, including supporting the sick and housebound members of the congregation.

Most recently he secured a £250,000 Heritage Lottery Funding grant for repairs to the bell town and roof of St Marie's Church in Manchester Road.

Incredibly Mr Hyndman succeeded in this while undergoing treatment for cancer, even attending meetings with architects on his way to the hospital for chemotherapy.

At the same time, on top of his diagnosis, Mr and Mrs Hyndman were also caring for their daughter, Helen, as she battled cancer.

Bury Times:

In 1991 Mr Hyndman was appointed a Justice of the Peace and served at Bury Magistrates' Court for 23 years, including as Chairman of the Bench, before retiring to spend more time with his grandchildren and family.

He also served as a governor and Chair of Governors at St. Marie’s Primary School for 20 years and at St Gabriel's High School for 32 years, as well as Chairing the school's Parent Teacher Association.

During this time he organised and ran many fundraising events which helped to provide much needed equipment, such as a new minibus.

Further, beyond his many roles in education, Mr Hyndman has served as a voluntary member of the Greater Manchester Police Authority and multiple voluntary organisations.