A BIG-hearted volunteer has been celebrated with prestigious medal for her decades of service at The Fed in Prestwich.

Roz Harris has received the Order of Mercy medal in recognition of her 40 years of dedicated voluntary work at the Heathlands Village.

The award was founded over 100 years ago by a Royal Charter of Queen Victoria to recognise "voluntary service assisting in the relief of sickness and suffering".

Each year recipients are nominated by charities, and 27 individuals who have given a minimum of seven years voluntary service are awarded.

Ms Harris was nominated by The Fed's chairman Mark Adlestone, CEO Mark Cunningham, and former CEO Karen Phillips who described her as "an exceptional volunteer, who stands out in terms of her compassion and commitment."

Ms Harris said she was "thrilled and ecstatic" to receive the award, adding: "I am so proud to be a Jewish person connected to this organisation, and so proud to have been honoured with such an accolade."

Her long journey with The Fed began when she first started helping out in the 1960s.

Working alongside her husband and fellow volunteer Roy, by the 1990s Ms Harris had become vice-chair of the Fed's Welfare Committee and a member of the Quality Assurance Committee.

Ms Harris also ran the Heathlands Village Coffee Lounge on Sunday afternoons for many years, and can still be seen almost daily offering a listening ear and a chat while touching up residents' makeup and nails.

She said: “I’ve been all the way up and down through the organisation, and Heathlands Village is my second home – everyone here is my family, staff and residents.

"At a meeting of the Welfare Committee over twenty years ago, we were discussing what else we could do to make residents feel comfortable and at home – and someone suggested having a volunteer go round painting their nails; giving manicures; tidying their makeup – that sort of thing. I thought it sounded like a wonderful idea, and the rest is history.”

Ms Harris added that she "couldn't believe it" when she opened the letter telling her of the medal, noting: "I rang my husband and fell to pieces."

The award also had added meaning due to Ms Harris' family connection to Heathland's village.

She said: “My father lived here for the last 16 years of his life and he simply loved the place.

"He was so happy here – and that’s the biggest tribute to the staff I can give. Heathlands Village now is an even more amazing place than it was then."

The Order of Mercy medal was awarded to Ms Harris by Lord Lingfield, president of the Order, at Mansion House, London.

It was accompanied with a citation which said: "Mrs Harris is a model for all volunteers, working almost daily to enhance the lives of vulnerable people. She is loved by all who experience her gentle care.”