Volunteers get top award for helping their communities

HELPING OUT Voluntary counsellor Sandra Rowland and Off the Record client Cherkera Bates.    Picture: Sarah Standing (112008-7762)
HELPING OUT Voluntary counsellor Sandra Rowland and Off the Record client Cherkera Bates. Picture: Sarah Standing (112008-7762)
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COMMUNITY groups ranging from an advice service for youngsters to a football club are celebrating after being given awards for their volunteer work.

They have received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the MBE for groups of volunteers, to recognise outstanding contributions to their communities.

Off The Record in Havant and Portsmouth, AFC Portchester, Ocean Youth Trust South based in Gosport and Hampshire Search and Rescue have all been given the honour.

Off The Record has received the award for providing a free and confidential counselling service for young people of 11 to 25.

Theresa Wade, its CEO, said: ‘We are absolutely thrilled and delighted to have received this prestigious honour for the support we offer young people in the local community.’

Hampshire Search and Rescue received the Award for providing 24/7 assistance to Hampshire police in searches for missing people.

Chairman Simon Jeffs said he was astounded and added: ‘Our volunteers give up their own time and money to help in the search for vulnerable, missing persons regardless of time of day, weather and cost.’

AFC Portchester has more than 500 players and 34 teams in its club and relies on numerous parents and members to give up their time.

Club secretary Jason Brooker said: ‘We’re just extremely proud. It’s brilliant for us and for the local area.’

And Ocean Youth Trust South takes hundreds of youngsters sailing each year, many of them from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Caroline White said: ‘It’s an incredible tribute to everyone who has helped build this up over the years. It’s proper recognition for the people without whom the charity wouldn’t exist.’

The award’s committee chair, former TV journalist Martyn Lewis said: ‘Volunteer groups make such an important contribution to their communities, often without praise for the incredible job they do.’

All winners will receive a certificate signed by The Queen and an exclusive commemorative crystal at a special ceremony. They have also received invitations to a royal garden party at Buckingham Palace in summer.