A SENIOR citizen from Gourock who has been working tirelessly in the community for almost 50 years has received an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.

Irene Pollard has been recognised for her services to people with disabilities and their families.

The pensioner has been the cornerstone of many local services over the years - including Inverclyde Carers' Council, Greenock West & Cardwell Bay Community Council, Phoenix Health Project, Enable Social Club and the Guides.

Despite being 85-years-old, Irene is still very much involved in the community, serving as the chair of the Carers Council and the Enable Social Club.

She won a Tele community champions award in 2019.

Modest Irene believes none of her work would have been possible without the support of her friends and fellow community volunteers.

Irene told the Tele: "I was delighted when I received the announcement but I think my son Gordon and daughter Fiona were more excited about it than I was!

"Over the years I have met some truly wonderful people and have been invited to join many groups and voluntary organisations.

"I feel really lucky that I've had all these great opportunities and the rewards have been endless.

"The people of Inverclyde are great and I love living here."

Irene became an advocate for the disabled after her late daughter, Janet, was born with learning difficulties.

Janet passed away in 2001 at the age of 40, however Irene has never stopped campaigning to ensure both the individuals and their carers are not left behind.

She said: "I helped to start the Carers Council and over the years we've campaigned for many things.

"We fought for the Inverclyde Carers' Centre and also wanted to ensure that carers received a decent pension.

"We went to lots of meetings all over Scotland and I'd like to think we really did make a difference to people's lives.

"The thing I'll say is I never actually completed any of these things on my own, I was always involved in a group of people all wanting the same thing.

"I've been chairperson and secretary of many groups but it's always been a team effort."

Irene was married to husband Ted for 60 years before he passed away in 2018.

The couple met at the Pavillion dancing in Rothesay and he supported Irene in all her endeavours and encouraged her to do anything she wanted to - except drive.

She said: "Out of all the things I was able to do, the one thing Ted would never let me do is drive, as he said I had too bad a temper!

"One thing I always remember is we were in a car crash just down the road from our house near Battery Park and before we even had a chance to realise what happened, there were people all around us helping, offering to phone our family and giving first aid guidance.

"Inverclyde has been systematically robbed over the years, from us being supposedly the most-deprived area and getting a bad name.

"However, I always say we have the best people living here and that's still true of my friends and neighbours today."

Irene should be gearing up to head to Buckingham Palace to receive her honour next year, however is uncertain of how proceedings will go in light of current circumstances.

She added: "Believe it or not, I've already met the Queen as I went with other carers to receive the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service.

"Either way, I'll be proudly put the medal in the display cabinet in my house."

Irene says she hopes her story will encourage new members to get involved in the Inverclyde Carers' Council.

You can find out more about it by contacting Your Voice on 01475 728628.