10:00AM, Sunday 09 June 2019
A number of voluntary organisations from the area have been honoured with the Queens Award for Voluntary Service for their contributions to the community.
This is the highest award given to volunteer groups in the UK, created in 2002 as part of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebrations. Recipients receive a domed glass crystal and a certificate signed by the Queen.
Representatives of the groups were invited to attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace last month to celebrate the honour.
They will be presented with their award by the Lord Lieutenant of their respective counties later this summer.
The Advertiser spoke to the recipients of the awards.
Maidenhead & District Stroke Club
The volunteers who run the Maidenhead and District Stroke Club have been honoured with the award.
The club was formed 29 years ago with the aim of helping stroke survivors to re-establish themselves in a social environment.
It has a 50-strong membership and meets fortnightly at SportsAble in Braywick Road, Maidenhead.
Chairman Neil Symons attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace last month along with other members of the club.
He said: “I pay tribute to the dedication and tireless effort the volunteers put in, week in, week out, to make a difference to people’s lives – both the stroke survivors and their carers.
“We are considered a vital part of the stroke-aftercare service in our local community now, despite being a voluntary organisation.
“The culture of our club and the way we run it means we’ve been able to help guide other stroke clubs across the UK.”
Wargrave Women and Girls Football Club
The club, which was established in 2002 and has more than 50 volunteers and helpers, won the award for its dedication to encouraging women and girls from Wargrave and the surrounding areas to play football.
Wargrave Women and Girls FC is one of six Berkshire groups to have been awarded the honour in 2019, bringing the total number of winning groups in the area to 72 since 2002.
Bob Austin, chairman of Wargrave Women and Girls Football Club, said: “The club is very proud to have received this award, which reflects the enthusiasm and dedication of all those volunteers involved in running this successful club, which has over 370 girls and women playing regular football throughout the season.”
Reading Refugee Support Group
Reading Refugee Support Group has helped those most in need to rebuild their lives in Berkshire for the last 25 years.
Founded in 1994, the charity helps refugees and asylum seekers, providing them with support from solicitors and volunteer caseworkers, and running English language courses.
On Twitter, Reading Refugee Support Group said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have been awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
“RRSG was started by volunteers in 1994, so a massive thank you to all of the amazing volunteers who’ve been involved through the years.”
Sport in Mind
This Berkshire-formed charity aims to improve the lives of people experiencing mental health problems through sport and physical activity.
Sport in Mind’s work includes delivering services in partnership with the NHS in order to aid recovery, promote mental wellbeing and improve physical health for people across the South- east and Dorset.
Founder Neil Harris said the Queens Award was ‘fantastic recognition’ for the group’s work to help people get their lives back on track through sport.
He said: “It is fantastic recognition for all the amazing work our dedicated volunteers and coaches commit to the charity each week.
“Without their brilliant support over the last nine years, the charity wouldn’t have been able to support the recovery of over 10,000 local people.
“Thank you to everyone who has supported us.”
The Buckinghamshire branch of national mental health charity Mind has also scooped the Queen's Award.
More than 570 volunteers deliver the charity’s mental health support; two thirds of the volunteers are children and young people, who have trained to be peer supporters in their own schools.
Tori Roddy, the chair of the board of trustees, said: “The contribution of our volunteers is invaluable, enabling us to better respond to demand and help so many more people.”
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