HELENSBURGH’S Scottish Parliament local hero says she was “gobsmacked” to be nominated for the award by the area’s MSP - and she’s still on cloud nine after rubbing shoulders with royalty at a recent ceremony.

Liz Simpson, who celebrated her 67th birthday last Friday to cap off an unforgettable seven days, attended the opening of the new term at Holyrood on October 2, where she met the Queen and had her picture taken with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The Kirkmichael woman was announced as Jackie Baillie’s constituency winner last month for collecting and delivering food parcels, prescriptions, newspapers and anything else required to elderly residents in the neighbourhood during lockdown.

Helensburgh Advertiser: Nicola Sturgeon with local hero LizNicola Sturgeon with local hero Liz

And she told the Advertiser that she and her daughter, Rebecca, made the most of their day out in the capital - despite being in unfamiliar surroundings.

“I asked if I could have a sneaky picture of the Queen for my mum, who’s nearly 90 and is in a nursing home”, said Liz.

“The Queen was just absolutely wonderful, she complimented me on my coat and she asked why I was there, so I explained what our group did and she told me that was wonderful and said ‘it was lovely to meet you’.

READ MORE: Here's why Helensburgh 'local hero' Liz was chosen for special Holyrood honour by town's MSP

“It’s not every day that happens - and then Nicola Sturgeon wanted a picture. It was fabulous.

“After it was all finished we went back to the hotel and got changed and my daughter said to me ‘mum, this has been a wonderful day, now let’s go and hit Primark’.”

As chairperson of the Kirkmichael Community Development Group for the past six years, Liz has helped organise Meet and Eat weekly sessions for pensioners in the area before the pandemic struck - and she played a key role in supporting them through lockdown, too.

Helensburgh Advertiser: Scottish Parliament local heroScottish Parliament local hero

She said: “People had been saying ‘you should get something for this’ but I wasn’t looking for anything, we’re just trying to help the elderly.

“They looked after us, so we need to look after them now.

“We knew that pensioners couldn’t get out and because I’ve lived there most of my life I know everybody and I knew what kind of scenarios they were in, what they were needing.

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“During the pandemic we lost three of our pensioners and it was just awful, some had no family at all to help them out, so it was important that we as a group, and my daughter and I, made sure that they were looked after.

“It was an absolute gobsmacker when I got the letter from Jackie Baillie’s office.

“I thought ‘no, this isn’t happening, I’m from Kirkmichael, we’re only trying to help the old folk, we don’t get awards and things like that, we don’t get recognised’. But there you go.”

Ms Baillie said Liz had been nominated as her local hero “because of how selfless she was throughout the depths of the pandemic”.

She added: “This is such a wonderful, thoughtful thing to have done and Liz should be really proud of the difference that she has made in our community.”

Liz thanked everyone who nominated her, and everyone who has donated food and money to be distributed in Kirkmichael, including the Helensburgh Lions Club and Morrisons.