The man behind Ayrshire's Freckfest charity has been awarded a British Empire Medal in the King's Birthday Honours List.

Craig Smart, 53, received the honour for services to the community in Irvine and across Ayrshire.

His charity Freckfest brings top musicians to Irvine and Troon and gives young and new musicians the chance to support the bigger acts at live concerts and events.

Craig said: "I'm just blown away by this. I don't do all of this for the accolades.

"The reason I accepted this honour is for the team of volunteers behind Freckfest. I might be the chair of Freckfest, but what our team have done is truly remarkable."

Craig founded Freckfest in memory of Willie Freckleton, the entertainment chief at the former Magnum Leisure Centre in Irvine, who died in 2013.

(Image: Craig Smart)

Willie, also known as 'the voice of Marymass', brought bands such as Oasis, The Clash, Madness and the Smiths to Irvine, as well as attracting the BBC Radio One roadshow to the town.

And as a teenager, Craig joined Willie's team at the Magnum and helped him put Irvine on the musical map.

After Willie's death, Craig, who now works with North Lanarkshire Council, was determined to continue his dream of bringing major acts to their home town and launched Freckfest 10 years ago.

The plan was to bring top acts to Ayrshire at an affordable price.

He does most of the work organising the charity and will always be at all the events, even sweeping the floor, collecting glasses and anything else that needs done.

In just a decade, Freckfest has promoted 184 events by a team of mostly volunteers and a few professionals.

The Harbour Arts CentreThe Harbour Arts Centre (Image: Newsquest)

Many of the events have been held at Irvine's Harbour Arts Centre. But as much as he loves HAC, Craig sees a need to set up a bigger venue to the town in the near future.

He said: "The HAC is a wonderful place, but it is a small venue. Irvine needs a bigger one too.

"We've been talking to North Ayrshire Council about that recently - either extending the HAC or creating a new venue.

"Irvine has grown in a really positive way and it needs an events space for the whole community. The Portal is a fantastic sporting venue but it is not a space for standing rock gigs."

He added: "We did the Making Waves Festival at the Beach Park in 2022 and we are now working really hard on to bring a really impressive event to the town in July next year."

The Freckfest organisation won the North Ayrshire Provost's Award for Arts and Culture Award in 2019 for their work. They have expanded across Ayrshire and beyond in recent years too.

The Magnum. (Image: Newsquest)

They promoted Johnny Marr in the Grand Hall in Kilmarnock, Gun in Ayr Town Hall, and an annual Seaside Ska event in Troon Concert Hall.

When the organisers of Butesong asked for some help, the Freckfest team got on board and helped to promote a boutique festival on the Isle of Bute.

After so many live gigs, we thought we should ask Craig which was his favourite.

He replied: "I'm not good at looking back. I always look forward.

"But at our very first event in August 2013, in the space of four months and with no funding, we created something quite exciting. That first event was headlined by The Magic Numbers and JJ Gilmour. That was the catalyst."

Congratulations to Craig on his well deserved honour.

Other Ayrshire honours recipients in the list are as follows.

Dr Ann Wilson Moulds, founder, trustee and lately chief executive officer, Action Against Stalking, or services to Victims of Stalking. (CBE)

Robert Stanley Lawrence Woodward, of Maybole, chair of the board at the Met Office, for services to public sector development. (CBE)

Lesslie Anne Young, of Mauchline, chief executive of Epilepsy Scotland, for services to people with epilepsy in Scotland. (OBE)

John Ernest Hutcheson Kitson, of Kilmarnock, member of the National Inclusion Team, for services to Scouting. (MBE)

Susan Christian Robertson, from Catrine, spiritual care team member, NHS Ayrshire and Arran, and volunteer trustee and community administrator, Catrine Games Hall, for services to the community in Ayrshire and Arran. (MBE)

Jean Rodger, for services to the community in Dalry. (BEM)