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‘Inspirational’ book festival director and fundraiser awarded MBE

Wigtown resident Anne Barclay was “overwhelmed” to hear that she was being awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

The award is being made for services to charity and the arts and recognises her voluntary work to help raise funds for cancer research and her role in building the Wigtown Book Festival into one of the most successful events of its kind in Scotland.

As Operational Director of the Wigtown Festival Company she is central to the annual 10-day event, which attracts authors and visitors from all over the country and far beyond, and which has fuelled the economic regeneration of the area.

She is also the Volunteer Committee Chair of the biennial Cancer Research UK Relay For Life, that takes place at Bladnoch Park, which has raised £530,000 since it started in 2008.

Anne said: “I’m quite overwhelmed at the news of the honour. I feel really privileged to have grown up within an incredible community, with the most supportive family, friends and colleagues who have offered constant inspiration and encouragement.

“I have always felt passionately about giving back to the community that afforded me such a fantastic childhood and the opportunity to work for Wigtown Festival Company, with such a dedicated staff and volunteer team, really is a dream job.

“My role on the Dumfries and Galloway Relay For Life Committee is really as the spokesperson for the event – everyone else does the hard work of fundraising, planning and making it happen, I just talk a lot.”

Anne offered special thanks to all who have helped make Wigtown a place where literature changes lives and to all the teams, survivors, volunteers, sponsors, committee members, staff partners and the local community who have supported Relay For Life.

Wigtown born and bred, Anne first recognised the importance of cancer research after one of her classmates passed away when she was 10. After that she also lost a grandfather and an aunt to the disease.

A close family friend who was diagnosed with cancer took part in one of the first Relay For Life events. She survived and is still participating today.

Anne was a girl guide back in 1998 and attended the ceremony when Wigtown became Scotland’s National Book Town. She worked for the festival while still at school and became Assistant to the Director after graduating from university in 2007.

One of her special areas of interest has been building up what the festival offers for children and young people. She has also been crucial in expanding what the festival company does to provide a year-round programme of events and activities.

Adrian Turpin, Wigtown Book Festival’s Artistic Director, said: “Anne is an inspirational figure, whether in her work with the festival and young people or the endless hours she has put into raising money and awareness for Relay For Life. She really does place public service at the centre of her life and this award couldn’t be more deserved. It’s a privilege to work with her.”

Amanda Harris, Cancer Research UK fundraising manager, added: “Every step we make towards beating cancer relies on every pound, every hour and every person.

“We’d like to thank Anne who gives her time freely to raise money for research and promote greater awareness of the disease, and yet asks for nothing in return.

“It’s thanks to the support of the fundraising public and our amazing army of volunteers that we can continue to make a real difference and bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.”

• The Dumfries and Galloway Cancer Research UK Relay For Life takes place on 6 July and will see Relay teams raise money by walking circuits of Bladnoch Park non-stop for 24 hours – see https://relay.cancerresearchuk.org/site/TR?fr_id=1895&pg=entry

• This year’s Wigtown Book Festival takes place from 27 September to 6 October – see http://www.wigtownbookfestival.com/