AYRSHIRE fund-raising hero Michael Kirkum has been honoured by a top award straight from Downing Street - but it took Number 10 two attempts to convince him it wasn't a hoax.

Michael was named this week as one of the latest winners of the 'Points of Light' award from the Prime Minister's office, in recognition of his years of efforts raising money to buy gifts for young patients in the children's ward at Crosshouse Hospital.

But when a Downing Street official phoned Michael to say that Rishi Sunak wanted to speak to him, Michael - perhaps understandably - was immediately sceptical.

Michael admitted that he "put the phone straight down", assuming it was a wind-up.

"I thought, 'aye, right'," he told us.

But it turned out to be a genuine phone call - after Michael, from Kilwinning, was chosen as the 2,224th winner of a Points of Light award, which recognises outstanding individual volunteers from across the UK.

The honour was bestowed in recognition of his years of festive fund-raising for children who have had to spend Christmas in a hospital bed - an effort which in recent years Michael has expanded to include Easter too.

The Kilwinning man has run the campaign for over a decade - alongside numerous other fund-raising efforts - and has helped to provide festive cheer to over 20,000 children over the years at a time when it is most needed.

Fortunately the Number 10 official on the other end of the phone wasn't to be deterred and quickly called back to tell Michael that it was no hoax.

“It was very surreal," he commented. 

"“I have no idea how it came about but it was quite a nice accolade to get.

"I don't know how Rishi Sunak came to know about it - I can’t see him reading the Ayrshire papers.

“It’s amazing. I think it’s quite a big deal – it’s absolutely humbling.

"No-one that does charity work does it for recognition, they do it because they can do it and want to help out.

"I have been humbled by the support during this record breaking year. It’s a lot of work but you don’t mind putting the work in."

The Points of Light award has been running in the UK since 2014, when David Cameron was Prime Minister, and continued with daily awards through the premierships of Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and now Rishi Sunak.

The scheme was first established in the United States in 1990 by the then President George H.W. Bush, before crossing the Atlantic 24 years later.

Michael added that it was "nice he [Rishi Sunak] took time out of his day to phone me" - even if he may not have shown too much gratitude at the time.

If you know someone you think is worthy of consideration as a potential Points of Light award winner, you can find out more, and submit a nomination, online at contact.no10.gov.uk.