Denise is made a Dame in Queen’s birthday honours

Dr Denise Coia
Dr Denise Coia

A doctor who has dedicated her professional life to helping those with mental health issues has been honoured by the Queen with a Damehood.

Dr Denise Coia - whose Italian father Joseph came to Milngavie with his family in the 1920s and ran a very successful fish and chip shop for many years - will travel down to Buckingham Palace later this year to receive her Dame of the British Empire honour.

She is hoping she may even rub shoulders with the likes of Rod Stewart - as she’s one of his biggest fans. The singer was awarded with a knighthood in the same birthday honours list.

The clinical psychiatrist from Milngavie has been recognised as a leader in her field, rising to became chair of Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) in 2010.

She has also been recognised internationally for her pioneering work in the area of mental health.

Many of the older generation in Milngavie may still remember the Coia family - as well as her dad’s fish and chip shop, her uncle Louis also ran a newsagent in the town.

After qualifying in the 1970s, Dr Coia worked in some of the most challenging areas of Glasgow - including the old Gorbals before it was extensive redeveloped in the 1980s and 90s.

She remembers the huge transformation of the Gorbals, having worked there for more than 20 years.

The former chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists said: “I am delighted to receive this honour. It has been a pleasure to work as a psychiatrist in the east end of Glasgow.

“I started work there in the 1970s when it was a very different place than it is today.”

Dr Coia, who is in her late 50s, is also a current General Medical Council associate.

Asked about how she feels about going to pick up her Damehood, Dr Coia joked: “I hope Rod Stewart is there at the same time. I’d like to get some tickets to one of his London shows.”

Robbie Pearson from HIS, said: “Dr Coia has worked tirelessly to improve patient care in Scotland.”