Five Devon volunteer groups receive the Royal seal of approval as they are honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

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 round of Queen’s Awards was made before Covid-19 struck but it is very evident that the ethos of volunteering has come even more to the fore during the present crisis.

The winners in Devon are:
• Balloons
• North Devon Hospice Volunteers
• Kingsbridge in Bloom
• Stoke Canon Inn
• Citizens’ Advice, South Hams

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:
“At this time in the Nation’s history volunteering is as important as it has ever been. There is no better way of recognising the very best examples of volunteering than by the award of The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. So, I am delighted that these impressive Devon groups have been so successful this year and I look forward to presenting them with the award, on behalf of the Queen, in due course.
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.”

Sara Bennett, Chief Executive Officer of Balloons said:
“The whole team at Balloons is absolutely delighted to be honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. Supporting children and young people when they are at their most vulnerable, when someone they love has died, is crucial in a civilised society, and our volunteers ensure that grieving children and young people in our area are not left alone with their grief. This award recognises their dedication and service, and we salute them all”.

Stephen Roberts, Chief Executive of North Devon Hospice said:
“I am bursting with pride that the volunteers of North Devon Hospice have been recognised in this way. There is not a single piece of the Hospice that has not been supported by a volunteer in our 36 year history. In so doing, each and every one of them are making an impact on someone’s life at a time when they need all the support they can get. I could not think of a more fitting way for this impact to be recognised than the Queen’s Voluntary Award”.

Graham Price, Chairman of Kingsbridge in Bloom said:
“We are extremely honoured to receive this prestigious award which is a testament to the dedication of the team to keep Kingsbridge so attractive. Over the past few years it has not always been an easy task to improve and regenerate our public open spaces in Kingsbridge but through sheer determination and hard work we feel we have truly enhanced the town through exceptional horticulture and many environmental initiatives. We could not have achieved this without the full support of our fantastic businesses, Town Council, District Council and our community who have all been tremendous”.

Maggy Clark, Volunteer Leader, Stoke Canon Inn said:
“The volunteers at the Stoke Canon Inn are both honoured and thrilled to have been awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. We love providing the community with a social hub where all are welcome and we look forward to a huge party when we can celebrate both our brilliant award and the 9th anniversary of when we started our voluntary venture.”

Janie Moor, Chief Officer, Citizens Advice South Hams said:
On behalf of Citizens Advice South Hams, its volunteers and trustees I am delighted to accept the Queens Award for Voluntary Service. Our trained volunteers generally work behind the scenes to help local people find a way forward with their problems, so this award will mean that their hard work has been recognised.
The sheer scope and volume of issues that we deal with on a daily basis can vary from debt and problems with applying for disability benefits onto consumer issues and scams. So our volunteer advisers have to know how and where to access relevant advice whilst often picking up on other issues that the client wasn’t aware we could help with.