The results of this year’s QAVS (Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service) have just been officially announced by Buckingham Palace and the winners published in the London Gazette. Three organisations in County Antrim have been granted this prestigious accolade:
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. The Award scheme was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. The prestigious recognition is the equivalent of an MBE for voluntary groups. It is the highest form of civic award that can be granted to an organisation in recognition of the outstanding work of volunteers. Each applicant is subjected to a rigorous assessment process at both Northern Ireland and United Kingdom levels.
The Lord-Lieutenant for County Antrim, Mr David McCorkell, has expressed his congratulations to the successful organisations. "I am delighted that three organisations from County Antrim have been granted the QAVS in 2020. The award is a wonderful achievement and it recognises the commitment and dedication of volunteers who make such an important contribution to their local communities. The importance of volunteering to civic life has never been more important than at the present time and I am delighted that so many volunteer groups across the County have been actively engaged in supporting their local communities during the present pandemic. I look forward to meeting the volunteers from each of the three successful organisations at their individual award ceremonies which will hopefully be organised in a few months’ time".
The three awardee groups this year represent a wide cross section of the innovative service being offered by volunteers:
Coaching 4 Christ – Based in Ahoghill, C4C aims to transform the lives of young people through sport. It has been operational for over 15 years during which time over 100,000 young people have benefitted from the services provided by the organisation’s 60 volunteers.
As a highly valued and respected part of the local community, its excellent reputation has spread across the globe and C4C is now recognised as an excellent example of good practice worldwide. As a result, volunteers have visited other countries such as Spain and Uganda to impart the organisation’s principles of commitment, unity and life transformation through sport. International visitors have also visited the Ahoghill centre in order to gain an insight into the organisation’s unique work with young people. The C4C Youth Academy currently has 250 young people enrolled. Volunteers help with sports coaching and character/lifestyle in the C4C centre itself as well as in schools, community centres, churches and other venues across Northern Ireland.
Mae Murray Foundation – Based in Larne, the Foundation provides support for the creation of an inclusive society with true participation for ALL in leisure and social settings, regardless of age or personal ability. The organisation has a vision that everyone should be able to participate within society regardless of complexity of support needed to do so.
Approximately 600 people who are affected by social isolation and exclusion, as a result of disability, age, medical condition or caring responsibilities have benefited directly from the Foundation’s work. The volunteers are committed to improving outcomes of people of all ages and they work tirelessly to develop solution-based ideas to support inclusion for all. Formal partnership arrangements have been developed with several local authorities across Northern Ireland. The Foundation is highly respected at both regional and national level. It featured on the 2019 BBC Children in Need programme when there was a major feature on their ‘Inclusive Beaches’ initiative.
Ballymoney Branch of the Royal British Legion – This group is committed to supporting ex-service personnel and local communities in the Ballymoney area to prevent social isolation through shared activities and cross-community integration. The organisation has been recognised for the work which its 30 volunteers are doing in providing advice and
services to challenge issues such as loneliness within the local community. They promote the physical and mental well being of individuals many of whom live in areas of social deprivation. Comradeship is encouraged as well as actively encouraging opportunities for social integration. Each year the Branch reaches out to and supports over 900 people in the Ballymoney area and assists, in partnership with Council, in the delivery of a number of community related programmes. The Branch premises are used by a wide range of organisations in the Ballymoney area. Local members have also been involved with the Gurkha welfare Trust to build houses in Nepal.
Clearly the ‘volunteering’ spirit is still alive and well in County Antrim. The three organisations to be recognised in the 2020 QAVS awards demonstrate the importance for everyone to offer their time, knowledge and skills in supporting others. Presentation ceremonies will be held in due course as circumstances allow. This will provide a further opportunity to celebrate all that is good about volunteering in our society.
If you would like to find out more about the QAVS, please have our look at our webpage, here, and visit the QAVS website: https://qavs.culture.gov.uk/
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