AScottish charity worker has become the first Ayrshire woman to pick up a global humanitarian award named in honour of the county's own Robert Burns.

Blanche Nicholson, 65, from the disabled person's charity Hansel, picked up the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award at a ceremony last night at the poet's birthplace, now a museum in Alloway. Presenting the award, the Minister for Housing and Welfare, Margaret Burgess, said: "It is a great pleasure to present the award to someone who has undoubtedly enriched the lives of others in her community.

"Blanche has worked tirelessly to provide services and support to people living with learning difficulties in Ayrshire and is a well-deserved recipient of the accolade."

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Hansel, an old Scottish word for gift, was set up 50 years ago by Blanche's parents after her sister Lindy was born with Down's Syndrome. She has worked tirelessly with the charity for over 30 years, setting up services in education, employment, leisure and housing.

She said: "I'm overwhelmed to pick up this award and I do so on the coat tails of my mother and many other extraordinary Ayrshire folk who have, over the years, made so many contributions and commitments to Hansel."