Local heroes who kept beaches clean, set up a community library and served hot meals have been hailed in the Scottish Parliament.

More than a dozen community stalwarts were invited to the Capital for a reception to celebrate their work during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Craig Hoy, South Scotland MSP, organised the reception following a survey he conducted last year asking for people to put forward local heroes to attend the ceremonial opening of the Scottish Parliament with him.

Mr Hoy, who was previously a councillor for the Haddington and Lammermuir ward on East Lothian Council, described those who attended as “local heroes”.

He said: “Lockdown was a difficult time for many of our communities, but it also brought people together in interesting ways and inspired so many acts of generosity.

“I want to say a massive thank you to all of the fantastic local heroes who came to the reception in the Scottish Parliament, and thank everyone who helped their communities during the Covid pandemic and beyond.”

Community champions from the length and breadth of the county attended Mr Hoy’s event, including Romie Blair, from Dunbar Against Litter, and George Robertson, who helped to organise the town’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic, which involved dozens of volunteers from throughout the town.

Rab Moran, of Haddington, was selected thanks to his work attending to hundreds of flower planters in the town, and through his voluntary work as part of Our Community Kitchen.

Fellow Haddington resident Pat Lemmon was also in attendance, alongside Lyn Hamilton from Haddington-based Wee Red Upcycles.

Mrs Hamilton sourced and delivered more than 2,000 wellbeing packages during lockdown and has taken part in fundraising activities such as the Kiltwalk to raise money for vulnerable groups.

Raymond Liddell, who also set up a community library outside his home in Tranent, and Lesley Young helped to create craft packages for people during the height of the pandemic and set up a litter-picking group in the town.

Douglas Robertson and Radio Saltire host Davie Martin, who have fundraised through the Tranent Belters to support the people of Tranent, including the elderly and vulnerable, were also at the event.

Also in attendance was Shona Brash, who has been actively involved in beach cleaning and animal rescue in Cockenzie and Port Seton, and Angela Davie, a trust manager at Pennypit Community Centre, who has enabled underprivileged children to access sports and food in Prestonpans.

Sue Northrop, who headed up North Berwick Community Council’s emergency resilience plan during the height of the pandemic, and the group’s chairperson Judy Lockhart-Hunter were also present.

Fiona Reville, from Girlguiding East Lothian, and Sarah Cudby, from Gullane, who helped to set up Gullane Village Association with Lorna Scott – who was unable to attend the event – were also there.

Also present were David Affleck, president of East Linton’s Horticultural Society, and Edward Paton, a support worker with ELCAP who went above and beyond to care for people in the community and supported his wife after the sudden loss of her father, when he fundraised £2,500 for funeral arrangements.

Alison Hunton, who helped run Our Community Kitchen (OCK) in Haddington for six months during the height of the pandemic, described it as “a privilege” to represent the team from the Haddington charity.

She said: “The team at OCK were able to deliver close to 6,000 hot meals to those who might have otherwise gone hungry during the pandemic.

“We really could not have done it without all of the amazing and devoted volunteers who dedicated their time and love to supporting the community.”

Elaine Clarke, of Longniddry, described it as “a real surprise and an honour” to be invited to the reception.

She said: “I have been volunteering for Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS) for several years now, but the pandemic presented us with many challenges in providing support to children and families.

“During the first lockdown, I started making masks for friends and family members before the announcement by the First Minister that mask-wearing would be mandatory indoors.

“I remember on the night of the announcement, I had a huge number of orders and by the end of lockdown I had raised £15,500 for CHAS, making 4,500 masks in total!”

Mrs Lockhart-Hunter, chairperson of North Berwick Community Council, said: “It was lovely to meet other volunteers and catch up with people I had volunteered alongside in North Berwick; it was a really special evening.

“All volunteers were taken on a tour of the Scottish Parliament, which was very interesting – I even got to sit in the First Minister’s chair!”