Ayr MSP Siobhian Brown is delighted to announce Prestwick pensioner Billy Herd as her Local Hero for 2021.

The 129 Local Heroes will join the Queen at Holyrood on October 2 as she marks the opening of the Sixth Session of the Scottish Parliament.

Seventy-nine-year old Billy Herd has been a volunteer and fundraiser since the 1990s. He has been involved with CLIC Malcolm Sargent House and the campaign to save it, as well as The Ayrshire Hospice, Whiteleys Retreat and Ayrshire Cancer Support.

Amongst his fundraising efforts he has walked the Great Wall of China and participated in sky diving and charity zipline events, all in his 70s.

During the height of the pandemic when Billy had to shield, he continued to help the community by becoming a telephone befriender and writing about his experiences in an online blog.

Commenting, Ms. Brown said:“I know many people across Ayr, Prestwick and Troon give their time and energy selflessly, and have especially during this very difficult and challenging time.

“Billy is one of these people. An unsung hero in the community and a true star. The work he has done for charity is remarkable and the fact that he has kept going at nearly 80 is testament to his strength of character and his resolve. I want to personally thank Billy for his unwavering commitment to these local charities.

“As the sixth session of the Scottish Parliament gets underway it’s important that we recognise the work that has been going on in our communities and it is important our local heroes get the recognition they deserve.”

On receiving the accolade Billy Herd said: “It’s a real honour and privilege to be selected as Siobhian’s local hero and to go to the opening of parliament.” I will continue to do what I can for the community for as long as I can, and I thank everyone for their support over the years and for their kind words.”

Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament, Alison Johnstone MSP said: “As parliamentarians we have all heard directly of the difficult circumstances that many people in our communities have faced because of this pandemic. But alongside this, we have heard so many uplifting stories of people and communities coming together to protect those most vulnerable.

“As we begin this new session of Parliament, we are filled with renewed purpose, hope and determination to make things better for people in Scotland. Therefore, it is fitting that we can use this occasion to tell the story of those across Scotland who have provided that optimism for others.

“As we seek to recover and rebuild our country, I am proud that the Parliament can play its part in celebrating and honouring those that have made such a positive difference during challenging times.”