Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie has been given a damehood in the King's first Birthday Honours.

The long serving politician receives the honour for political and public service and is understood to be the first sitting MSP at Holyrood to either be knighted or given a damehood - the female equivalent of the honour.

The MSP for Dumbarton since the Scottish Parliament was created in 1999, she became deputy leader of the party in 2020.

Dame Jackie said the honour was "totally unexpected", with news of its award "coming as quite a shock".

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She told the PA news agency: "I understand I was nominated by constituents, and when you have represented people for 24 years this is such a humbling experience.

"And so I was delighted to accept on that basis."

With recipients of honours sworn to secrecy about their awards ahead of the honours list being made public, the Labour politician told just two people about the award - her daughter and the Scottish Labour leader, Anas Sarwar.

The 59-year-old is one of only three MSPs at Holyrood who have represented the same constituency for the lifetime of the Parliament - the others being former deputy first minister John Swinney, and the SNP's Fergus Ewing.

And she vowed that the awarding of the honour would not change her.

In her time in Holyrood Dame Jackie has fought for a public inquiry to be held into the outbreak of Clostridium difficile at the Vale of Leven hospital in West Dunbartonshire.

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When the inquiry was held it highlighted "serious personal and systemic failures" at the hospital, finding that C.diff was a factor in the death of 34 out of 143 patients who had tested positive for the infection there over the course of 2007 and 2008.

"I hated the fact the C.diff at the Vale of Leven hospital damaged so many of my constituents and so many of them lost their lives as a result," Dame Jackie said.

"It was my job to make sure that I relentlessly pursued a public inquiry for them, against the then health minister Nicola Sturgeon.

"I think it took five years to get there, but we finally got a public inquiry that made all sorts of recommendations that I think have benefited not just the Vale of Leven but the NHS across Scotland."

With her constituency including the Faslane nuclear submarine base on the Clyde, she has also supported the jobs there, even at times when Labour as not been in favour of nuclear weapons.

Dame Jackie said: "I'm a multilateralist, I want to see nuclear weapons across the world removed, but these are good jobs in my constituency."

The MSP, who was born in Hong Kong to a Portuguese father and Scottish mother, was made deputy communities minister by Holyrood's first first minister Donald Dewar, before becoming social justice minister under his successor Henry McLeish, during which time she was spearheaded the efforts of the then Scottish Executive's homelessness task force.

In opposition at Holyrood, she brought forward a member's bill to tackle the abuse of disabled parking bays, with legislation passed by Holyrood in 2009 establishing fines for those who park in them without holding a blue badge.

She has held a range of positions in the shadow cabinet, covering areas including health, social care and finance and the economy.

She has previously served as acting Scottish Labour leader and was elected as the party's Scottish deputy leader in 2020.

But she said: "The reality is I can't get over the fact that I think there are many, many more people in my constituency who are much more deserving of this honour than me.

"The NHS staff that I know, the care staff that I know, who went above and beyond during the pandemic to care for us. I think of all the people in my constituency who are always giving of their time freely to help others, whether it is volunteering with Chas (Children's Hospices Across Scotland) which is in the constituency, or raising funds for cancer services, all of that they do all the time. So they are far more deserving than me.

"This is less about me, this is for them. It is for them as much as it is for me."