New Year honour for lifelong volunteer

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NEWTON Mearns resident Alison Mary Gilchrist has been awarded an OBE for services to business and the community.

The 78-year-old, originally from Pollokshields, has devoted decades of her spare time to volunteering for various organisations — but insists that the recognition is just a stroke of luck.

The mother-of-two and grandmother-of-six told The Extra: “It’s a lovely honour and I was delighted, but I’m always struck by the number of people in East Renfrewshire who volunteer.

“There are lots of people out there who are equally deserving — I’ve just been lucky.”

Mrs Gilchrist’s interest in volunteering stems from her mother, who regularly visited the Samaritan Hospital in Glasgow.

She explained: “She said to me when I reached my 20s; I can’t do it, so you must do it in my place. I went as a visitor, and then I became chairman.”

From there, the volunteer has been involved across the health board, including as vice-chairman of the Victoria Infirmary Trust — as well as working on the family business.

Stints at the Citizens Advice Bureau and Scottish Milk Board followed, as well as becoming a deputy lieutenant of Renfrewshire in 1996 and president of East Renfrewshire Girlguiding in 2005.

Mrs Gilchrist continues to act as deputy lieutenant, and is about to celebrate the Brownies centenary year with the Guide Association.

She added: “I’d like to share my award with everyone connected with East Ren Girlguiding, because they give so much of their time. They’re the ones who should have the award.

“I’d also recommend volunteering to anyone considering it.

“You meet so many interesting people who are willing to work for nothing, just to help their fellow man.”