A NURSE who had to leave her much-loved profession behind to care for her family has been recognised for her working setting up an autism support group in Largs.

Lizzy Barbour left nursing around six years ago after having difficulty accessing the right childcare to enable her to work the rotating 12-hour shift patterns the job demanded.

Despite the life change, her determination to continue helping others remained - a passion that has now led her on an amazing journey.

The Scottish Women's Convention recently showcased Lizzy's work, describing her as an 'amazing woman' instrumental in setting up a local branch of the National Autistic Society (NAS).

Lizzy is now raising funds for the group through next month's virtual Kiltwalk while also helping out at vaccination centres during the pandemic.

Lizzy said: "Leaving nursing was the right choice for me at the time. It set me on a different path finding my passion for inclusion and supporting families.

"When I moved to Largs from Millport, I didn’t really know many people so I looked into support groups that I thought might be helpful but discovered the closest group supporting autistic individuals and their families was in Kilmarnock at the time.

"This wasn’t really accessible to me as I didn’t drive.

"Due to my background of running the local parent and toddlers’ group in Millport, I decided to organise a catch up in Largs for parents supporting autistic children.

"I bought some coffee, tea, biscuits and cheap mugs, hired the community room in the Largs Library then made a poster to share on my Facebook page.

"Only a couple of people turned up but I was so grateful to them for coming along and they are still very involved in the group today.

"Thankfully as the word spread, we had more parents join us and through various conversations we decided to become an official group.

"I was able to connect with the branch’s manager from National Autistic Society Scotland who helped us become the NAS Largs Branch."

The group has gradually grown and now works with a number of local organisations, including Largs Academy to provide advice for youngsters transitioning to high school.

Lizzy has now come full circle and recently returned to nursing to help out at the vaccination clinics.

She said: "I have been able to draw on my skills that I have developed throughout the years of volunteering for NAS and the many courses I have completed with Parent Network Scotland.

"Our branch continues to operate online at the moment with the hope that we will be able to return to in person support once the situation improves.

"I am also taking part in the virtual Kiltwalk in April to raise funds for our local group, I aim to walk from Largs, over the Loch Thom road to Greenock, and back. This will help boost our funds after what has been a very difficult year."

For more details email largs.branch@nas.org.uk or go to www.facebook.com/largsbranch/