NINE emergency service heroes who responded to the Ayr gas blast last year have been honoured with a special award from the First Minister.

The Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) workers all answered the call after the explosion in Kincaidston on October 18, 2021.

A family of four was treated in hospital after the blast completely destroyed one home, damaged three others so badly that they had to be demolished, and left dozens more cordoned off.

Kenneth Millar, Robert Purdie, Ross McCulloch, William Brown, William McCann, Arin Yilmaz, Elaine West, Ian Beaddie and Lynne Peacock were among 14 emergency response workers and two members of the public presented with a Brave@Heart Award by Nicola Sturgeon.

The award recognises acts of bravery and heroism across Scotland with nominations made by the emergency services and winners selected by an independent validation panel.

Arriving first on the scene in Gorse Park in a solo response vehicle, paramedic William McCann started to attend to a number of patients, assisted by off-duty technician Kenny Millar, who responded from his nearby home, taking significant risk to their own lives, in a chaotic and unknown situation.

Ayr Advertiser: The aftermath of the devastating Gorse Park explosion on October 18, 2021The aftermath of the devastating Gorse Park explosion on October 18, 2021 (Image: Newsquest)

They discovered that one building had completely collapsed and other homes were in a precarious position.

Although the cause of the blast was unknown at the time - though later confirmed to be the result of a corroded gas pipe - and the ongoing risk at the site was still unclear, the ambulance workers acted promptly to keep the public safe and recover the situation to normality as swiftly as possible, without the loss of life.

Speaking after Tuesday's award ceremony at Bute House – which was held in-person for the first time since 2019 due to Covid restrictions – Ms Sturgeon said: “Presenting these awards is an honour for me and I’m extremely happy to able to recognise those who put their lives at risk to save others in person once again.

“Each and every one of the recipients here tonight went above and beyond the call of duty, showing astounding courage and quick thinking to prevent incidents in extraordinary circumstances. They are inspiring and an example to the whole of Scotland.”

Pauline Howie, Chief Executive of the Scottish Ambulance Service, said: "Our staff showed incredible bravery when they responded to this critical incident at Kincaidston.

"They tended to patients during what was an uncertain and dangerous situation.

"They demonstrated the true values of the Scottish Ambulance Service, providing the highest level of care.

"For them to be acknowledged by the First Minister is a real testament to their dedication and professionalism.

"They deserve huge congratulations.”   

Phil Jones, chair of the Brave@Heart 2022 validation panel, said: “The Brave@Heart award winners represent the very best of Scotland.

"Their heroic acts have protected others who have often been in desperate and perilous situations.  

“These winners also remind us that thousands of people in Scotland are working to protect others every day.

“It’s so important that their contributions are celebrated because they set an example to us all.”

Other Brave@Heart award winners included Police Scotland constables Amy Burns, Glenn Coletta and Josh McCorry, HM Coastguard helicopter crews Josh Williams and Craig Thomson, Edinburgh Trams head of operations Scott MacQuarrie, and six-year-old Benji, who got emergency help for his mum when he dialled 999 after she fell ill at home.