Queen’s Awards ‘highest honour’ for volunteers

Milling Coordinator Jenny Hartland inside Holgate Windmill, which is the oldest working windmill in Yorkshire.
Milling Coordinator Jenny Hartland inside Holgate Windmill, which is the oldest working windmill in Yorkshire.
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IT IS known as the single greatest honour for the nation’s volunteers – and now 11 groups across Yorkshire have been recognised in the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services.

The awards, honouring the contribution which voluntary organisations make to society, are not for single acts or brave, bold gestures. They are for the ongoing efforts of tireless volunteers in building community relations, eradicating loneliness and creating a better society.

“This award is about the groups that have given so much to the community,” said Dr Ingrid Roscoe, Lord-Lieutenant of West Yorkshire. “It’s the single greatest honour – I cannot think of one comparable.”

The Queen’s Awards, equivalent to an MBE, are announced on June 2 every year on the anniversary of the Coronation of the Queen and presented by the region’s Lord-Lieutenants. Winners are given a certificate signed by the Queen, a domed crystal and a garden party invitation.

The greatest number of winners announced today for the region was in North Yorkshire.

The Nidderdale Museum, established in Pateley Bridge in 1975 by a group of enthusiasts who have collected historical and educational artefacts, was among those honoured, along with York Against Cancer, which helps raise money to improve the lives of people living with the disease.

The charity Scarborough Survivors, which has supported people affected by mental illness for 23 years and manages a resource centre with daily activities to promote wellbeing and break down isolation, has also been given an award.

Two other groups in York, Physionet, which collects pre-owned physiotherapy and mobility equipment from care sites and provides disabled people in developing countries with vital equipment, and the Holgate Windmill Preservation Society, which restored a derelict 18th century windmill that is now open to school groups and the public, have both been honoured.

“Being nominated was fantastic – winning is a shock,” said the windmill preservation society’s chairman Stephen Potts. “We’ve gone on for so long with the work it’s become a part of our lives.

“The award recognises the social importance of restoring the windmill, and it’s become very important for the area.”

Barry Dodd CBE, the Lord-Lieutenant of North Yorkshire, said the five wins for the area was the highest number since the awards were introduced in 2002.

“The great thing about the Queen’s Awards is that very often these people really are our unsung heroes, and this is such a wonderful way of recognising them,” he said.

In South Yorkshire, there were two winners, a “wonderful accolade which is so richly deserved”, said Lord-Lieutenant for South Yorkshire Andrew Coombe.

The award-winning Barnsley Youth Choir, which gives opportunities to young people and now has more than 250 members aged seven to 23 since it launched in 2009, has been honoured.

The Sheffield Churches Council for Community Care, which helps prevent isolation among older people, has been honoured for its efforts through visits, transport and support.

“The Queen introduced these awards some years ago to recognise the work that volunteers do,” said Mr Coombe. “In the present climate it’s the volunteer organisations that are keeping us going. It’s really quite something to get an award of this nature.”

In West Yorkshire there were four further recipients, including the Grand Northern Ukelele Festival, which organises arts and music events in Huddersfield to promote “the very best in all of us”, award organisers said.

The Hebden Bridge Community Association, described as a community anchor at the heart of the town, and the Honley Village Community Trust near Holmfirth have both been recognised.

And the Mount Cricket Club in Batley, which provides opportunities for local youngsters and the isolated in sport, was also given an award.

“It’s about as diverse as it could be,” said Dr Roscoe. “These awards give great encouragement to those who have been working tirelessly and selflessly for 10 or 25 or even 30 years.

“This is for selfless working.”

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