THE New Year celebrations were extra special for three East Renfrewshire residents after they were honoured by the Queen.

Carol Dutch, Joe Freedman and Professor Eleanor Shaw were all thrilled to be included in the New Year Honours List.

Joe has been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for helping older residents survive the Covid pandemic.

The 73-year-old grandfather launched the Pulling Together project to make sure vulnerable people had food and medicines.

He formed a team of 100 volunteers, with the help of charity worker Ethne Woldman, to carry out home deliveries for 13 weeks, at the height of lockdown.

They also set up a ‘buddy system’ where older people who are on their own were either visited in their homes or phoned to make sure they were safe.

Much of the early assistance initially focused on the Jewish community in Giffnock but the scheme was eventually extended to people of all faiths across East Renfrewshire.

Joe told the Barrhead News: “I had recently retired from my business and had time on my hands when Ethne contacted me at the start of the pandemic and said we should do something for the wider community.

“I set up a rota of young volunteers who could do home deliveries of food during the day and in the evening to the over-70s who were stuck at home and could not get out.

“From there, it just grew arms and legs.”
Joe spent more than 40 years in the clothing trade, specialising in kilt hire, until he sold up three years ago.
He also used to own the Gilt-Edged menswear store in Glasgow’s Saltmarket.

“Many people simply couldn’t get supermarket slots, so we got the young people to go into the supermarkets and shop for them,” added Joe, who lives in Newton Mearns. “We then began going into chemists and picking up prescriptions, as many would not do home deliveries, or go into opticians and pick up glasses that were being repaired.

“We also had various initiatives to stop people getting lonely.

“I set up a befriending service for people who were living on their own. We would phone them or knock on their doors to make sure they were okay and give them things like jigsaws to help pass the time and keep them active.

“We not only delivered to Jewish houses but also to members of the Indian and Muslim communities.”

Pulling Together also attracted donations of everything from face coverings to hand sanitiser when these were in short supply.

Joe, who has two grown-up children and five grandchildren, said: “The Jewish community really came together at an important time.

“At the end of the day we were helping people of all ages, not just the elderly.

“During the first few tumultuous months of lockdown, the supermarkets hadn’t really got their act together and that is where we were really needed.

“I am embarrassed to receive the award on my own because there were so many people who were involved in Pulling Together, like Ethne Woldman.

“It’s as much for them as it is for me.”

Carol, who is a civil servant with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), has been awarded an OBE for helping Universal Credit claimants and members of the public overcome hardship.

They include people suffering from financial problems, domestic abuse, ill-health, family bereavement or at risk of suicide.

Carol, who is a widow and lives in Waterfoot, said she was overcome by emotion when she learned of her royal honour.

She added: “To be quite honest, I cried – and, for the first time in my life, I was totally speechless.

“People who know me well will find that quite unbelievable but I think I was in a complete state of shock, as it was just so unexpected.

“Being nominated by my colleagues without knowing it is something quite strange really.

“I know it sounds trite but I really couldn’t have achieved anything without every one of them playing a vital role.”

For the last decade, 60-year-old Carol has been a member of the Scottish Benevolent Fund, which supports colleagues across the DWP who are in crisis in their personal lives and need financial support.

She has two grown-up children and two grandchildren and is due to retire in March and then get married in July.

Strathclyde University business guru Eleanor, 51, has also been awarded the OBE, for services to entrepreneurship and education.

She is a member of the university’s senior management team and is responsible for their flagship Strathclyde Inspire programme, which aims to foster the next generation of entrepreneurs and inventors among its thousands of students.

Eleanor, who lives in Netherlee with her husband and two teenage children, is also a trustee of the Glasgow-based Beatson Cancer Charity.

She told the Barrhead News: “I am truly humbled to be recognised in the New Year Honours List.

“As my colleagues, friends and family know, I am deeply passionate about entrepreneurship and education. I am grateful for the many opportunities I have had to work alongside so many talented, entrepreneurial colleagues and I am proud of everything we have achieved so far.

“This award is testament to all the entrepreneurial people, including students, from whom I have learnt so much."