• Group to receive the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service – the highest award given to volunteer groups in the UK
• Two new sponsored 4x4 Toyota Rav 4 hybrid vehicles supplied by Arnold Clark Car & Van Rental
• First three Public Access Defibrillators launched in Neilston
A volunteer group of trained lifesavers has been awarded the highest honour within the voluntary sector.
The Neilston and Uplawmoor Community First Responders group has been awarded a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS), thanks to their work in helping to save lives.
The group was founded in 2013 by Stuart McLellan and Ross Nelson – both employed full-time by the Scottish Ambulance Service – and since going live in 2014 members have been called out more than 1,300 times.
Stuart said: “Ross and I are both extremely proud of this recognition and honoured to lead such a fantastic team of volunteers who are extremely passionate for what they do and keen to progress the group further and further.”
The First Responders group is a registered charity with 25 volunteer members – many of whom live in the area – who give up their time to be on call from the group’s base in Neilston.
Volunteers respond to emergency calls from the Scottish Ambulance Service, often serving as the first link in the vital first few minutes prior to the arrival of an ambulance. First Responders are contacted by the ambulance service’s emergency control room after the ambulance has been dispatched, providing the chance for early CPR and defibrillation.
Pauline Howie, chief executive of the Scottish Ambulance Service, said: “Congratulations to the Neilston and Uplawmoor Community First Responders group on its Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. This is a wonderful achievement for the group and a testament to the hard work of all its volunteers who have shown great dedication to the community.”
The group was notified of the award by the office of Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the voluntary sector’s equivalent of an MBE. The Lord Lieutenant of Renfrewshire has also personally congratulated the group on its success. Stuart and Ross may now be invited to attend the Queen’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace at a later date.
The official announcement, published on June 2 in a special supplement in the London Gazette, coincides with news that Arnold Clark Car & Van Rental has renewed its vehicle sponsorship of the group – and will present the keys to two brand new 4x4 Toyota Rav 4 hybrid vehicles in recognition of its services to local East Renfrewshire and surrounding communities.
In addition, Neilston now has two Public Access Defibrillators (PADs) – including one on the external wall of the Neilston Development Trust building, which also serves as the group’s base – with another in production due for delivery shortly. The latest PAD was fully sponsored by the Neilston Society for Charity on the run-up to its 225th Anniversary.
The Co-Op Community Fund, Gavin Currie Foundation and Neilston Juniors have sponsored other defibrillators, with the remaining costs raised through a mix of sponsorship, fundraising initiatives and donations. The group is extremely grateful for everyone’s support and hopes to install more PADs as funds allow.