A new record number of 281 voluntary groups have been awarded the 2019 Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service this year.
The award is considered “the MBE for volunteer groups" and recognises exceptional service within communities and is the highest honour for volunteer groups in the UK.
The winners range from across the UK and included a local Mind volunteer group and several faith-based groups.
Sir Martyn Lewis, chair at the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service Independent Committee said: “The record number of nominations for this year’s Queen’s Awards for Voluntary Service proves that volunteering at a grassroots level continues to thrive.
“This year it is a real pleasure to congratulate 281 winners - all with strong reputations for successfully tackling a wide variety of issues and problems in their communities.
“They are powerful examples of real democracy in action.
“We know there are thousands more local organisations doing great work, and I would strongly encourage those people who have seen them in action or benefitted from their activities to consider nominating them for next year’s awards.
“They are the highest our country can bestow on groups of volunteers.”
A spokesperson from award winner Calum's Cabin in Rothesay, which gives holidays on the Isle of Bute for children suffering from cancer and their families, told Civil Society News: "We were shocked and honoured, its fantastic.
"It's wonderful to raise awareness for Calum's Cabin and it's an award for everyone who has done anything with Calum's Cabin."
They said they were humbled and honoured to attend the Queen's garden party last Wednesday and said the Queen "is a fantastic lady," who has served her country.
Ann Osborne, director at winning Suffolk organsation Rural Coffee Caravan, who promote kindness and support anyone in the community dealing with loneliness, told Civil Society News they had known about the award for the last six weeks.
She said the volunteers had been "overwhelmed by support" on every channel and said the award was an "absolute privilege".
She added: “We are thrilled to receive this prestigious award, the equivalent of an MBE.
"Without our wonderful group of volunteers, we simply would not exist.
"They give so much and they give it so willingly.
"They are the backbone of our organisation and together with a very small staff they make it possible for us to reach around 5,000 people each year, offering friendship and support, addressing loneliness and isolation in our very rural areas.
"It is a privilege to work with them and we are over the moon that our charity has been recognised in this way, especially in Volunteers’ Week.”
The highest honour for a voluntary group
The award is considered equivalent to an MBE for the voluntary sector and any volunteer-led group of two or more providing a social, economic or environmental service to the local community can be nominated.
Organisations are judged on the benefit they bring to the community and their reputation or standing in that area.
Mims Davies, minister for civil society, said: “Volunteers make an incredible difference to so many people’s lives and their communities.
“These prestigious awards recognise the wonderful work being done by many voluntary organisations across the country.
“I’d like to offer my sincere congratulations to all the worthy winners for their continued hard work and dedication.”
Winners of the award are announced on 2 June to mark the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation.
Nominations for the 2020 awards will be accepted until 13 September.