PANDEMIC heroes from Renfrewshire have told of their pride after being named in the New Year Honours List as a reward for their caring efforts.

Among those to be handed the royal seal of approval is businessman Charandeep Singh, who has been awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) after his foodbank fed thousands of people who were struggling to cope during the coronavirus crisis.

He launched The Sikh Food Bank in March to help the growing number of families he saw suffering hardship.

Mr Singh co-ordinated a 50-strong team of volunteers to deliver more than 100,000 cooked meals and grocery parcels across Scotland over the last nine months.

The team also provided a free shopping service for those who had to self-isolate at home and were unable to get to the shops.

At its peak, the foodbank was supplying more than 5,000 parcels and cooked meals a week to hungry people, including the homeless, elderly and refugees.

The majority of them had been referred by crisis bodies such as Citizens Advice or the British Red Cross.

Mr Singh, 31, who is also deputy chief executive of the Scottish Chamber of Commerce, said the foodbank has supported people of all faiths and cultures by providing essentials, such as bread and milk, to last them seven days.

“It’s a massive honour to get the BEM and has been a privilege to serve communities during the pandemic,” said Mr Singh, from Paisley.

“I’d like to dedicate this award to the whole team of volunteers and supporters, without whom none of this would be possible.

“The Sikh Food Bank has been a lifeline service for families in need and we hope to continue serving all those in need in the future.”

During the pandemic, Mr Singh and has volunteers have also offered a phone service in different languages to help people combat loneliness and isolation.

In addition, educational kits were given to vulnerable children while schools were closed and festive food parcels were supplied to cash-strapped families in the run-up to Christmas.

Also named in the Honours List is 35-year-old Renfrewshire charity worker Jamie Kinlochan, who receives the BEM for setting up a hotline for vulnerable young people who were running out of money to pay for food and electricity during lockdown.

His work meant around £150,000 was given to young adults, aged 16 to 25, who live on their own and had been in care as children.

Most of the donations were made between March and July as other organisations struggled to help those most in need.

Around £90,000 was handed out in cash and the rest of the money was used to donate essentials such as fridges to keep food fresh and laptops to enable people to stay online.

Paisley man Mr Kinlochan, who is public affairs manager for the Who Cares? Scotland charity, set up the helpline shortly after the country went into lockdown.

He said many young people who have been in care have struggled to feed themselves and heat their homes during the pandemic.

The University of the West of Scotland graduate added: “I just had an idea but it took a massive team of people to get it off the ground.

“Who Cares? Scotland runs groups for people who have just come out of care but still need support to survive.

“The helpline was set up at the start of the pandemic because we realised that these people were most at risk, as they were less likely to have anyone to turn to for money or support.

“Also, other organisations that they would normally turn to for help were struggling to get up and running.”

For the last six years, Mr Kinlochan has organised and raised funds for a Christmas Day dinner for young people who have nowhere to go.

This meal started with just 16 but now feeds more than 100 people from Renfrewshire and other parts of the west of Scotland.

There was also a New Year celebration for Langbank couple Alan and Linda Stewart, who were both awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for their services to hairdressing.

The veteran crimpers founded the Rainbow Room International chain in 1979 and it now has 12 salons across Scotland.

Their firm is currently the largest hairdressing group in Scotland and has a renowned training academy.

It also boasts a number of celebrity customers, including chart-topper Robbie Williams.

They have also been stylists to the stars at major events such as the MOBO awards, London Fashion Week and T In The Park.

The royal honours are the latest to be bestowed on the husband-and-wife team, who have lived in Langbank for the past 25 years.

Previously, they have twice won Salon of the Year at the British Hairdressing Business Awards.

The couple have also raised tens of thousands of pounds for good causes, including the Hair And Beauty Benevolent (HABB) charity.

Speaking about receiving the OBE, Mr and Mrs Stewart told The Gazette: “We’re delighted to have been given such a prestigious honour.

“It has been an exceptionally hard year for everyone and the hairdressing industry is no exception.

“However, this honour has given us, our team and the industry a reason to celebrate and to look forward to a better 2021.”