THE chief executive of a St Helens organisation which supports more than 15,000 carers has been awarded the MBE in the King's Birthday Honours list.

Alan Ashton, 55,  has been at the helm of the St Helens Carers Centre for nearly two decades.

During his time at the charity, which aims to improve the lives of adult and child carers, he has expanded his organisation from helping 300 carers to supporting more than 14,500 adult carers and 800 young carers.

He is being honoured with the MBE for services to the community in St Helens.

Alan, who is from Liverpool, sees himself very much as an adopted Sintelliner and he has made a huge difference to thousands of people across the borough over the past 19 years.

Many of those people Alan and the team have supported have faced extraordinarily difficult circumstances.

Alan told the Star he was overwhelmed when he received a letter explaining he is being honoured.

He said: "It's about three weeks ago that I was told officially.

"I was completely shocked when I opened the letter - I feel really humble. I have been working there for 20 years next January and we do it because we love the place not because we want an honour.

"I'm pleased for the organisation and the carers. We see everyday what people [the carers] go through - both the young and adult carers.

"You can talk about the numbers and so on, but we do anything we can to support vulnerable carers - many of whom have had a raw deal.

"We help by caring for the carers.

"From the six-year-old carer who is supporting her mum [by getting her medication] - we have come across cases like that, to the 93-year-old caring for his partner who has dementia - we are there to help.

"There are people who have had a disabled child and are now in their 80s and that child is in their 20s. Those parents have been looking after the child all their lives - it really does put your own life into perspective."

Alan heaped praise on his team at both the St Helens Carers Centre and St Helens Young Carers.

He said: "I am so proud them, they have been brilliant."

He explained how they are the only carers centre in the country to have a benefits team, which he says has been a lifeline over the past 14 years when austerity has taken its grip on St Helens.

Among Alan's achievements that featured on his citation were:

● His efforts at locating carers, many of whom are unpaid, has meant that he has been able to direct services where they are needed most, and has provided crucial data to local authorities to influence their commissioning practices.

● He secured funding to enable the centre to become a trailblazer in a nationwide hospital project which allowed carer support staff within hospitals, offering on-site support to carers.

● When the Care Act came to effect in 2015, he proactively approached his local authority and highlighted the ways in which their practices would need to change in order to meet legal requirements.

● He has been responsible for raising over £1m per year for the centre, and this has meant that they have been able to support carers and their families when hit with financial difficulties, which ensures that they are able to continue providing care safely.

● This has also allowed him to implement innovative processes to improve the service the centre provides. This includes an in-house built website which allows adult and young carers to self-refer to the centre.

● He has also developed a database which tracks the impact of the work they do and allows the centre to adapt their service delivery. This data has also been crucial in identifying areas with the most need to be able to target services to the most