|Four voluntary groups in Somerset have been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
Forum 21, Portishead in Bloom, Somerset Sight and the Wiveliscombe Area Partnership have all been recognised for the valuable contribution they make to the lives of others in Somerset.
Forum 21 is a long-standing voluntary group that works tirelessly to improve the sustainability of communities in West Somerset. The group operates under the strapline “Caring for the planet, Caring for each other”.
The Community Woodland project cares for the planet, by improving wildlife and producing renewable energy, woodfuel, while their Energy work, such as the Surviving Winter project, cares for vulnerable members of the community.
Forum 21’s stand-out activity is linking these projects together to achieve multiple benefits – the delivery of affordable woodfuel to people in fuel poverty who are struggling to heat their homes.
Promoting local pride since 1996 through horticulture, community participation and environmental responsibility, Portishead in Bloom is a successful award-winning group that provides many voluntary horticultural opportunities regardless of ability,
Somerset Sight recently celebrated their 100th anniversary. The group provides emotional and practical support for over 3,500 people with visual impairment across Somerset, enabling people to stay independent and to live full and rewarding lives.
One of Somerset’s longest standing and most successful Community Regeneration Partnerships, Wiveslicombe Area Partnership not only provides an accessible community transport service, they also act strategically by enabling fledgling groups to form, develop to autonomy and deliver their projects.
Representatives from each group were invited to attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May, along with other successful groups from across the country. They will also receive a crystal award, a certificate signed by Her Majesty The Queen and, importantly can use the QAVS logo on their stationery and websites.
These voluntary groups are four of just 281 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. The number of nominations and awards has increased year on year since the awards were introduced in 2002, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to make life better for those around them.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.
Winners are announced each year on 2 June – the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation.
Award winners this year are wonderfully diverse. They include volunteers helping people overcome mental health problems through sport, volunteers using caravans as mobile cafe/information centres in geographically remote locations and another group mentoring children who have a parent in prison.
Representatives of each group will receive the award from Mrs Anne Maw,
Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset, later this summer.
The Lord-Lieutenant commented: ‘The way we live, within our communities, depends always on a few active public- spirited people who contribute in a multitude of ways. Perhaps we take these people for granted as part of everyday life. The QAVS reminds us that doing things, voluntarily, to improve the lives of those we live amongst, is an act of wonderful generosity. It is, therefore, a tremendous pleasure, and an honour, to be the person who, representing Her Majesty, presents these awards. I am pleased to say, though, that here in Somerset, we are extremely proud of all the organisations and individuals who are nominated for this recognition and I was delighted to congratulate every one of them at this year’s RB&W show. We take great pleasure in valuing and thanking them all – our Somerset QAVS nominees – with great sincerity.’
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