A COMMUNITY champion from Barrhead enjoyed a right royal day out as she collected a MBE at Buckingham Palace.

Ann Marie Kennedy, 76, was presented with the award by the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, at a royal investiture last week.

And the kind-hearted volunteer lapped up the chance to tell His Royal Highness all about the great work taking place to support the Barrhead community.

Mrs Kennedy, who is chair of Voluntary Action East Renfrewshire, has been helping people in the area for more than 20 years.

She set up Community Transport East Renfrewshire, otherwise known as ‘the Wee Red Bus,’ which enables older people to access health services.

Mrs Kennedy earned the MBE for her services to the community.

“It was all quite exciting,” she told the Barrhead News. “A really enjoyable day. It felt special.”

She also was pleasantly surprised by Prince William’s interest in her work.

“He chatted to me for about a minute,” said Mrs Kennedy. “He was really good and asked about the project and details about the bus, who it serves and where it goes.

“We just chatted away.”

Mrs Kennedy was in good company on the day, as Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas was honoured with an OBE at the same ceremony.

Her husband Noel and grandchildren Ryan, 18, and Melissa, 15, were guests of honour in London and soaked up the special occasion.

“The grandchildren loved it,” she said. “They were in the second row, so they could see everything and everyone from the front.”

The Wee Red Bus, which operates on a voluntary basis, is there for anyone who is struggling to make an appointment with their GP, hospital or clinic.

Not only does the service transport people to appointments, it also takes them on shopping trips and to have afternoon tea at the Voluntary Action East Renfrewshire hub in Barrhead.

As well as helping older people, the service also transports patients to and from the Beatson Cancer Centre, in Glasgow.

Mrs Kennedy was nominated for the MBE by members of the Barrhead community, which makes it all the more special for her.

“I was in the New Year Honours list,” she said. “I couldn’t do this without the volunteers.

“I would really like to thank all my volunteers who work so hard throughout the year.”

Mrs Kennedy’s efforts to support the East Renfrewshire community have received widespread acclaim over the years.

The Scottish Parliament’s presiding officer, Ken Macintosh, named her as his ‘local hero’ in 2016, before she was then chosen by MSPs to take part in the historic Riding procession along Edinburgh’s Royal Mile for the opening of the new parliamentary session in the same year.

She was also crowned East Renfrewshire Citizen of the Year in 2017.