MBE for Agnes Whyte, chairman of Breathe Easy

Agnes Whyte, who has been given an MBE for her services to people with lung conditions. She founded the charity Breathe Easy. Pic: George McLuskie
Agnes Whyte, who has been given an MBE for her services to people with lung conditions. She founded the charity Breathe Easy. Pic: George McLuskie

A mum of three from Leven whose life was once blighted by a lung condition has been awarded the MBE for her work with other sufferers.

Modest Agnes Whyte (56) said she was ‘shocked and humbled’ when she learned she was to be included in the New Year’s Honours List, but was pleased that it has helped raise awareness of the charity that she has devoted her life to over the past 12 years.

Agnes is the chairman of Breathe Easy Kirkcaldy, a support arm of the British Lung Foundation, which helps local people with lung conditions.

She’s raised more than £46,000 for the Foundation over the years and was instrumental in the campaign to have smoking banned in cars where there are children.

She also works closely with the senior charge nurse in Fife’s only acute respiratory unit at Kirkcaldy’s Victoria Hospital, who describes her as ‘truly remarkable.’

Agnes ensures patients who make regular visits to hospital due to their illness can be admitted direct to the specialist respiratory ward so they can get treatment as early as possible.

And she’s a member of various boards as a spokesperson for patients to ensure that their issues are addressed and that respiratory health is at the forefront when looking at funding and best practice in both primary and secondary care.

Agnes’ tireless work began when she developed a lung condition and spent three years in and out of hospital.

“I had so much support from the nurses and they said that the British Lung Foundation was looking for a support group in the area,” she said.

“We started Breathe Easy with four members and there are now over 100, as well as 50 in the Dunfermline group, which had fallen by the wayside.

“All the members understand what it is to have a lung condition. They don’t look disabled on the outside, but it is a disability that can have a huge impact on them and their families.

“So it’s important for them to know that there are people out there who know what they’re going through.

“We even organise singing sessions as it helps breathing and helps people feel upbeat and motivated.”

Agnes was nominated by the group for her honour and learned of it about two weeks ago, although she had to keep quiet until it was officially announced.

Now she’s looking forward to hearing when she’ll be presented with her ‘gong’ – so she can buy a new hat.

“I didn’t think ordinary people like me were given honours,” she said.

“I didn’t believe it at first; I thought there must be a mistake.”

“But it is very humbling and good publicity for the British Lung Foundation.”