VOLUNTARY lifesavers from East Renfrewshire have been formally presented with a prestigious award in recognition of their work.

Members of the Neilston & Uplawmoor Community First Responders received their Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service at a civic reception in Eastwood House.

At the event, the Lord Lieutenant of Renfrewshire, Guy Clark, was commanded by the Queen to present the group with their award, which is the equivalent of a MBE for voluntary organisations.

Founded in 2013 by Stuart McLellan and Ross Nelson, who are both employed full-time by the Scottish Ambulance Service, the group has been called into action more than 1,300 times over the past five years.

A registered charity, it has 25 volunteer members – many of whom live in the area and give up their time to be on call from a base in Neilston.

It also supports the local community in other ways, with the First Responders pushing for the installation of three public access defibrillators in Neilston, with a fourth on the way.

The existing units, which can help to save lives by restarting the heart in the event of cardiac arrest, are located on the external walls of Neilston Development Trust, Neilston Juniors football ground and Neilston Medical Centre.

A fourth device is to be located at Neilston Bowling Club.

The Neilston & Uplawmoor Community First Responders have also assisted other communities with the installation of defibrillators, with the most recent taking place in Lugton, East Ayrshire, where the community transformed an old BT telephone kiosk.

As well as attending the civic reception at Eastwood House, which was hosted by East Renfrewshire Council, the group’s founders were invited to the Queen’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in June.

Speaking on behalf of Ross and himself, Stuart told the Barrhead News: “We are absolutely delighted, as co-founders of Neilston & Uplawmoor Community First Responders, to receive such a prestigious award.

“There is a marvellous sense of achievement as it has been a real team effort. We have fantastic volunteers and it’s fantastic for us all to get this recognition.”