‘All welcome’ at mass to mark former MP’s honour

Tom Clarke
Tom Clarke

Long-serving former local MP Tom Clarke has issued an open invitation for people to attend an event celebrating his papal knighthood.

Mr Clarke served as MP for Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill from 1982 until last year’s general election.

It brought an end to a long and successful political career which included a stint as Minister of State for Film and Tourism under Tony Blair.

He also served as Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland under the late John Smith.

Earlier this year it was announced that he was to be awarded the honour of Knight of St Gregory the Great by Pope Francis - one of the highest honours in the Catholic Church.

Bishop Toal, of the Diocese of Motherwell, will offically present him with the award at a Special Mass at St Augustine’s Church, in Coatbridge (next to the Time Capsule), on Thursday, September 1.

Mr Clarke, who said he was “truly humbled and privileged” by the award, was keen to extend former constituents are all welcome to attend, whatever their political beliefs or religion.

He told the Herald: “I regard this as an enormous honour but it is one that is also meant for the whole community.

“I could not have achieved anything without their support, advice and loyalty.”

No ticket is required for entry to the event, which will start at 7pm.

Bishop Toal said Mr Clarke was “a most worthy recipient” of the Papal honour, explaining: “Tom served as a Member of Parliament from 1982 until 2015.

“Throughout all of that time Tom Clarke sought inspiration from his devout Catholic faith in determining how he should vote on a wide variety of parliamentary issues especially his work on disability rights, overseas development and the pro life cause.”

It is expected that Mr Clarke will have an audience with the Pope at the Vatican later this year.