Five Devon volunteer groups have received the Royal seal of approval and honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in 2017.
The award, the highest given each year to volunteer groups, sets the benchmark for excellence in volunteering and is equivalent in status to the MBE.
It recognises and celebrates outstanding achievement by groups of volunteers who regularly devote their time to helping and providing opportunity for others in the community and improving the quality of life.
This year’s winners in Devon are:
• Devon and Cornwall Community Advice Support Service (CASS+)
• Hope Cove Life Boat, South Hams
• National Coastwatch Institution (NCI) station Torbay
• The Estuary League of Friends, Topsham, Exeter
• The Stewards of the Devon County Show
They will be presented with their awards by Devon’s Lord Lieutenant, David Fursdon, the Queen’s personal representative in the county, at a special ceremonial event later in the year.
Lord-Lieutenant David Fursdon said: “The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is highly sought after and speaks volumes for the strength and value of the voluntary sector in Devon as well as giving national recognition to the marvellous achievements of this year’s Award winners. The Awards Ceremony in County Hall, Exeter, will be a very special occasion.
"I very much hope that these Awards will act as an inspiration to all voluntary groups and volunteers in the county and encourage yet more nominations to be made.”
Carole Edwards, general manager CASS+ said:
"We are thrilled to accept the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service on behalf of our charity, CASSPLUS. This is a real honour and is testament to the commitment of a very small team of staff, and a very much larger team of volunteers, over the past 11 years.
"We have been on quite a journey. I am so proud of everyone who has been involved with us-both past and present. They have helped to shape CASSPLUS and, most critically, to shape the lives of thousands of vulnerable people they have touched along the way. "
Graham Phillips, Chairman of Hope Cove Life Boat said "It is both flattering and humbling to think that we have even been nominated for such an award, bearing in mind the enormous amount of voluntary work that goes on around the Country, by so many people, from so many walks of life.
"It is both a privilege, and an honour to realise that Hope Cove Life Boat has been chosen as a recipient of the award.
"The tireless work of ‘backroom personnel’ has enabled the boat to exist, but, without the ceaseless efforts of the crew, the craft would not operate. 24 hours a day, 365 days a year; these men and women, risk their lives voluntarily, to protect and save the lives of others."
Torbay's NCI Station Manager Martin Crapper said : “We at Torbay NCI feel so proud to have been chosen for such a prestigious award; our members feel honoured to be recognised for the work we undertake in the Bay.
"On behalf of our Watchkeepers, I would like to thank the public for their generosity over the last seven years; this has allowed us to receive this ultimate recognition."
Rachel Gilpin, Chief Executive of the Estuary League of Friends, said: “We are delighted to learn that Estuary has been awarded The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service on our thirtieth anniversary. We are incredibly proud of the 160 local people who volunteer their time to make a difference and without whom our work would not be possible. The Award is testament to their commitment and dedication."
Ollie Allen, Secretary of the Devon County Show, said: "The Devon County Agricultural Association is delighted that the Volunteer Stewards of the Devon County Show have been recognised with the Queens Award for Voluntary Service.
"Having just come through this year’s Devon County Show, I am sure the voluntary stewards will be extremely grateful that their contribution to the biggest, annual celebration of life in Devon has been recognised. I am so proud and pleased that the hard work of the Volunteers has been rewarded with this huge honour."