The Queen has given a royal award to voluntary groups based in Waterlooville and Gosport
VOLUNTEERS whose work has ranged from staffing a food bank to speedily transporting urgent medical supplies across the area have had their efforts recognised thanks to a special award from the Queen.
Four voluntary groups that have helped more than 10,000 people across Hampshire in the last year have been awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
The awarded groups include Gosport based food bank and support network Acts of Kindness, the medical transportation service SERV Wessex, based in Waterlooville, and the Portsmouth Down Syndrome Association, based in Portsmouth.
There is ‘no higher accolade’ than to be chosen for the royal award, according to Acts of Kindness founder Kerry Snuggs.
She said: ‘We have an amazing band of volunteers who have worked tirelessly to help the local community and have really stepped up during the pandemic.
‘This award is for every single person who has been involved – they have all played such an important role during the pandemic and I’m just so thrilled for everyone.’
Since the start of the pandemic, the charity has fed more than 7,000 people, and it continues to feed more than 200 people a week.
Meanwhile, SERV Wessex’s voluntary fleet has completed more than 4,000 deliveries, covering more than 266,000 miles on duty as they deliver medical supplies across the area.
Robert Smith, chair of SERV Wessex, said: ‘We are very proud and humbled by this fabulous award, which is a testament to, and recognition of, the great work done by our volunteers in supporting the NHS hospitals and the community in all weathers and at all times of the day and night.’
The service is provided free by more than 20 volunteers using their own vehicles and paying all their own costs.
The recognition from Her Majesty after the trials of the Covid-19 pandemic will give all volunteers a ‘massive boost’, according to Ken Ross, who founded the Portsmouth Down Syndrome Association alongside his wife Rachael in 2009.
The association supports more than 120 children with Down syndrome in 100 schools across the area.
Ken said: ‘I hope it serves as a reminder that lots of incredible people are doing great work.
Rachael, who was awarded an MBE in 2019, added: ‘This award is a tribute to the dedication of our brilliant team of trustees, our wonderful families, and the local community whose collective efforts and support have helped to make a real and positive difference to the lives of children with Down syndrome.’
Volunteer Andrew Osborne, whose four-year old son has Down syndrome, said the work undertaken by the groups leaves those helped wanting to donate their time to continue the good work.
He said: ‘Portsmouth DSA has supported my family since our son, Teddy was diagnosed with Down syndrome. They have helped us in so many ways and their services have been such a lifeline.
‘I wouldn’t change Teddy for the world, but I will change the world for him, and that’s why I volunteer with Portsmouth DSA – I know I’m part of positive change for people with Down syndrome.’
Winners will receive a certificate signed by the Queen and an commemorative crystal award, to be presented by Her Majesty's personal representative in Hampshire, Lord-Lieutenant Nigel Atkinson, at a special ceremony.
Representatives from the groups are also invited to attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in the summer.
Also receiving an award is independent lifeboat crews from Solent Rescue, operating from Lepe Country Park on the western shores of the Solent.