A REMARKABLE woman who has been honoured with an MBE for her work with autistic people is dedicating the award to her late mum and her charity colleagues.

Vicki McCarthy, who will pick up her honour at Buckingham Palace on May 16, set up Reach for Autism five years ago inspired by her own experience with her daughter Kira.

She felt there was a lack of facilities for children on the spectrum when they got older.

Vicki, 45, said: "I spoke to other people with older children who were having the same issues.

"I felt I needed to do something to make a difference."

The first meeting started with three or four parents which quickly rose.

The group met in various premises before securing their own base in Ratho Street in 2014.

Vicki said: "It has made a huge difference. The only downside is the associated costs, it costs a lot of money to run the place."

Reach, a social enterprise organisation, supports around 40 children a week with after-school activities and there is also a toddler group.

Vicki said: "We've created a safe place for people who are autistic to come and be themselves."

Reach runs an adult social evening, art group and a youth training group who go out to schools raising awareness about what it is like to live on the autistic spectrum.

They have done training sessions with local schools, Police Scotland and with the justice group at the Scottish Parliament, plus the courts and tribunals service.

The mum-of-two said she was 'shocked' about her MBE award, announced in the Queen's New Year Honours list.

She said: "I couldn't believe it but I was a bit sad as well because the one person I wanted to share it with was my late mum Pat.

"She would have been as proud as punch.

"So it was tinged with a wee bit of sadness.

"I feel the award is not just for me but for all the amazing staff involved in Reach, the volunteers and families who came on board.

"I am so grateful to everyone who works here.

"It's a team effort."

Vicki was swift to praise Margaret McGowan, one of the charity's directors.

She said: "Margaret is the most dedicated woman I know and she has been here every day for the last five years unpaid.

"She has given so much of her time and is so caring."

Margaret was also quick to congratulate Vicki on her award.

She said: "Vicki has worked so hard. She does some amazing things, things that people don't know about. She was back at work two days after giving birth to her son Eli."

Vicki says Reach has put the needs of autistic people on the map and she is determined to keep on doing that.

She said: "I hope that Reach has brought autism to forefront in Inverclyde and has allowed other projects to develop as a result of that.

"It has made a significant difference to people's lives.

"It's like a family here."