THE manager of a retirement housing complex in Helensburgh says she thought her award in the New Year honours list was a hoax.

Liz Saunders received a British Empire Medal (BEM) in recognition of her services to social care in Scotland – and in particular to tenants at Bield Housing Association’s Waverley Court facility in West King Street during the Covid-19 crisis.

Liz, who has worked at Waverley Court since February 1996, admitted that she “thought it was a scam or something” when she first read an email telling her she had been nominated – until tenants Gordon and Diane White, who wrote to the Cabinet Office suggesting Liz be considered for an award, told her it was genuine.

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“I’m absolutely delighted,” Liz said. “At first I was pinching myself – I thought ‘these things don’t happen to people like me!’

“I was told it was because I’d done so much for all my tenants through the Covid crisis, but they’ve always been so good and kind to me, and I’ve always tried to do that wee bit extra for them.

“My colleagues and I worked hard to keep the cleanliness levels up to what was required, coming in to work a wee bit early to manage the place properly, that sort of thing.

“We played music in the mornings to try and keep everybody’s spirits up. We also had a few tenants who were completely shielding so we did what we could to make sure everyone had what they required and knew that we were at the other end of a phone if they needed us.

“Waverley Court is an extension of my home, really. I wouldn’t have worked here for nearly 25 years if I didn’t enjoy it.”

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Gordon said: “Liz has always gone above and beyond, and she’s gone to extra lengths under Covid to make sure everybody is safe – getting shopping, making sure medical help is available when it’s needed, and phoning tenants who are living on their own to make sure they’re not alone.

“When tenants haven’t been well, it’s Liz who has dealt with their families, keeping them in touch with how their relatives are getting on.

“She’s always done a lot of charity work too, organising events for Macmillan, Breast Cancer Care and other good causes, and although she hasn’t been able to organise the usual charity events because of the pandemic, she’s still managed to ensure the residents have ways of donating to help these good causes.

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“Liz just thinks she’s ordinary, but all the residents speak so highly of her. There are 30 residents in the Waverley Court retirement flats and we all felt she deserved some form of recognition for everything that she does for us.”

Liz wasn’t the only local award recipient in the honours list – Commodore Donald Doull, the commanding officer of HM Naval Base Clyde, was made a CBE.

Commodore Doull has been in charge at Faslane and Coulport since June 2018, when he succeeded Commodore Mark Gayfer.

He was previously principal naval overseer for the construction of the new Astute class submarines in Barrow-in-Furness, and has also served on board the nuclear submarines HMS Spartan, HMS Vigilant and HMS Victorious.

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