Ciara Nicholl, who received a MBE in the New Year Honours, has said she is "totally humbled" and "thankful" to everyone who has supported Ellie's Retreat. Ciara, along with her husband Billy, opened Ellie's Retreat in 2017 in honour of their late daughter, Ellie. The retreat offers respite breaks for bereaved families who have suffered the loss of a child.

"Ellie's Retreat comes from our heart. It is a very simple idea but we know, by the feedback we receive from families, that it can be helpful and that is all that we want."

Ciara explained that as she saw it the award was not a personal one:

"This is 100 percent for Ellie's Retreat. It is not for me. It is for everyone who has made it possible and who have supported us."

Ciara, Billy and their son Arran have "poured their heart and soul" into the Retreat according to Ciara and she says they are constantly amazed by the generosity of people.

"The support from the community and from businesses has been immense. We are constantly amazed by it and we are so grateful because it allows us to offer this support to other families," Ciara explained.

The letter detailing her MBE arrived in the post a month before the announcement and Ciara admits that it was something of a surprise:

"I was completely and utterly shocked and still have no idea who put us forward for it. We couldn't tell anyone except for close family so it is a bit of a relief now that we are able to talk it," Ciara said.

Eight-year-old Ellie passed away in March of 2016 having suffered from a rare progressive neurological condition known as H-ABC syndrome but her legacy lives on in the retreat set up in 2017 in her name.

"Ellie is always with us," Ciara said, "Next week we will open for bookings again for the new season. We just want to help families. Ellie's Retreat has given so much already and we want to continue," she concluded.