THE Princess Royal has presented a ‘group MBE’ to volunteers at Leuchie House.

Her Royal Highness Princess Anne presented the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service to Leuchie’s volunteer team during a visit to the charity, based near North Berwick, this afternoon (Tuesday).

East Lothian Courier:

The award recognises Leuchie volunteers’ "outstanding work in the community", supporting the centre to provide short respite breaks to people living with long-term health conditions such as multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s.

Over the past five years, the team, known as Friends of Leuchie, has provided invaluable support across all areas of the centre’s operation.

It is estimated the day-to-day work the volunteers do equates to about 250 hours each month.

Mairi O’Keefe, Leuchie’s chief executive, paid tribute to the efforts of the volunteers.

She said: “Quite simply, Leuchie House couldn’t survive without the support of our team of volunteers.

“The service we provide is by its nature resource-intensive and budgets are severely limited.

“Thanks to the work our volunteers do, not only has Leuchie survived against the odds, we’ve been able to develop into a national centre of excellence in respite care.

“For them to receive this award and to have it presented by HRH The Princess Royal is a real honour and a fitting tribute to all their hard work and commitment over the years.”

Liz Westcott (pictured below with the Princess Royal), who has worked as a volunteer at Leuchie for the past five years, accepted the award from the Princess, who previously visited the charity in 2013 and chatted with guests, carers, staff and supporters.

East Lothian Courier:

She told the Courier: “I was delighted to receive the award on behalf of Leuchie volunteers past and present who have played a role in making Leuchie House the special place it is today.

“As well as honouring the efforts of the Leuchie team, the award also recognises the important role that volunteers play generally, wherever they are in the community.”

During her visit, Her Royal Highness also launched The Leuchie Forever Fund, a new fundraising initiative of which she is Royal Patron.

Having been set up only five years ago, Leuchie has not yet built up substantial financial reserves, so The Leuchie Forever Fund aims to provide a stable, long-term funding base for the charity.