A PRESTWICK man who was named on the New Year honours list says he was "blown away" by the award.

Robert McRae received a British Empire Medal (BEM) for his services to veterans across the country.

Robert took up a role with Poppyscotland in 2006, after working as a retail manager for 20 years.

“I really joined Poppyscotland to something a bit more worthwhile," he told the Advertiser. 

"It’s been a bit of a change but it’s been great.”

Since then Robert has helped manage the volunteers who give up their time to assist the charity in their yearly appeals.

When Robert first took the role he operated centrally from Edinburgh before Poppyscotland divided the country into east and west regions.

This saw the 59-year-old then take up the role as the first ever poppy appeal organiser for the west - covering from as far south as Gretna all the way up to the Northern Isles.

Since then he has worked on “building that up from scratch” and helped pioneer one of Poppy Scotland's biggest donation drivers.

Robert helped introduce supermarket organisers for the charity, meaning volunteers now have a physical presence across stores in the region - rather than just a donation tin.

"That's my legacy I suppose," he commented.

Ayr Advertiser: Poppy appeal organiser Robert McRae said he was "blown away" by the honour.

The Prestwick man only found out that he was due to be honoured at the beginning of December when he got a letter from the Cabinet Office - but he wasn't the first person to find out.

“It was actually my wife that opened the letter," he said.

“She phoned me in the office and asked if I was sitting down, then said ‘I hope you don’t mind I saw this letter and it looked quite important – you’re on the New Years honours’.

“I was blown away. It was quite humbling; I didn’t see it coming at all."

Robert is due to retire in just two months' time, and says the honour - to be presented at a ceremony later this year - has made for the perfect send-off.

He commented: “I am retiring in March so it’s a nice way to finish off my tenure.

“It is very flattering that people have thought I have made a contribution to veterans.

"That’s the most important thing, to keep raising money for veterans and their families.”