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By Hugh Boag
Arran’s community champion Liz Mclean has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for her response to the cononavirus crisis and work to keep the island fed throughout the pandemic.
Liz, the popular store manager at the Co-op’s Brodick stores, has received the British Emprire Medal (BEM) in recognition of her work as a frontline food retail worker for services to the Covid-19 response.
But she insisted this week the award is not just for her – but for the way the whole island responded to the pandemic.
She said: ‘I do not deserve this award for myself. It is really for the magnificent team I have here who were working from 4am to 9pm during the lockdown and making more than 500 deliveries a week during the height of the pandemic to the elderly and vulnerable, as well as others who were shielding.
Liz’s citation highlighted how the store was at the centre of Arran’s community response to the crisis also liaising with foodbanks and social services, while playing an active role in the island’s resilience service.
‘I am just pleased I was able to help keep every one of the island well fed, stocked with supplies and safe. It was the right thing to do.’
Liz’s citation highlighted how the store was at the centre of Arran’s community response to the crisis, including working round the clock to ensure deliveries were made to hundreds of elderly and vulnerable members of the community so that no one went without. The community focus also ensured liaising with local foodbanks and social services, while playing an active role in the island’s resilience service.
And Liz singled out for praise others who helped keep the island going through the crisis – from Struan Armitage delivering the supplies and Colin McCort in the port office, to volunteers Fiona Laing and Chris Traill and her entire staff, including the tireless team manager Carol Harwood. She also said island police sergeant Dougie Robertson had been ‘superb’ for his advice and guidance.
Never one to seek the limelight, Liz told the Banner: ‘It was a feeling of disbelief when I received the letter, I thought it was a hoax at first. I love our customers to bits. They are brilliant and the way the community has responded has been incredible.
She did not even know she had been nominated but she is proud for her family – especially her 83-year-old dad Rab back in Linwood, where Liz is from.
Liz is not the first in the family to receive an honour. Her aunt and uncle, Margaret and Ben Mclean, have the MBE and her father danced with the Queen at Ballater when he was a serving soldier.
The British Empire Medal is awarded for a ‘hands-on’ service to the local community. and recipients are entitled to use the post-nominal letters ‘BEM’. The award will be presented to her at a later date by the Lord Lieutenant of Ayrshire and Arran, Sheriff Iona McDonald and Liz will attend the Queen’s Garden Party at Holyrood Palace next April.
This week the Lord Lieutenant sent her sincere congratulations to Mrs Mclean and thanked her for her significant contribution during the response to the strange times that we are living in.
Sheriff McDonald said: ‘Mrs Mclean like many others will probably argue that she was only doing what she thought was her job and failed to appreciate through personal modesty the difference that it made to the community.’
In August Liz and the staff at the Big Co in Brodick were named the best team in the whole of Britain in the 2020 Co-op Succeed Together Awards.