The King’s Award

for Voluntary Service


The King’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work done in their communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the anniversary of the Queen’s coronation and is equivalent to an MBE for volunteer groups. Each group is assessed on the benefit they bring to the local community.

In 2019 there were 250 winners from across the UK, representing a variety of inspiring organisations – In Devon, our three Queens Award for Voluntary Service winners were Devon Rape Crisis and Sexual Abuse Services, Honiton Dementia Action Alliance and Exeter Red Coat Guides. 

Who is eligible?


  • A group must be made up of two or more people and must provide a specific benefit in a local area. The group may be a branch of or affiliated to a larger regional or national organisation, as long as the volunteers started and developed the initiative for the activity locally,
  • Groups may bring a direct or indirect benefit. Indirect benefit includes, for example, work to preserve the heritage or environment.
  • Groups must have been operating at a high standard for at least 3 years.
  • More than half the people who work in the group must be volunteers.
  • More than half the group’s volunteers must have the right of residence in the UK.
  • The group satisfies requirements to safeguard children and vulnerable adults, if appropriate. These requirements may include a Disclosure and Barring Service Check.

How are

nominations made?


Nominations for the King’s Award for Voluntary Service can be made online at: The King’s Award for Voluntary Service: Overview – GOV.UK (

Anyone aware of the group, including people who benefit from the group’s activities, may make a nomination.. Don’t nominate your own group if you’re a volunteer or paid staff member as nominations must be independent and supported. Nominations from staff members/ volunteers will be deemed ineligible.


Nominations also require

supporting letters from two independent people and must show:


  • the impact of the group on the local community
  • what the volunteers in the group do and why they are special.
  • the relationship of the supporter to the group including the reason for the endorsement.

They are looking for letters that bring the work and impact of the group to life and as such they can be written by beneficiaries. Support letters written by anyone directly involved in or with the group, such as a volunteer or Trustee, will not be considered.

The letters of support are a very important part of the nomination process and are often critical in the decision making process.

When can

nominations be made?


You can send in your nomination at any time. They may be considered at any time within three years of the nomination. That said, each year if they are submitted by a specified date in September (date set out on the group is initially considered the year after they are nominated.


Top tips

on completing the nomination form


  • Complete the form accurately.
  • Tell us as much as you can within the number of words allowed.
  • follow the instructions in each section. It is important that you provide full but concise information about your nominated group.
  • explain exactly how they contribute to the people they benefit and the community.

Must I keep

the nomination secret?


You do not need to treat nominations in confidence. Groups must have said they are willing to accept an Award if the nomination is successful.


What if the nomination

is unsuccessful?


If, after three years, the nominated group has not been successful, you may assume that the nomination has lapsed. You or other nominators may re-nominate the group, but a different outcome is unlikely unless the group has additional achievements.

If the group has been informed that they have been unsuccessful, it is recommended that they wait 3 years before being re-nominated.

How are

the winners decided?


The Lieutenancy visit local groups to make an assessment. Their recommendations for nominations to advance to the next stage are then considered and assessed by the Independent Committee, some members of which are from the voluntary sector.

The committee provides a final shortlist to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which is sent to the King for his approval. The winners are then announced on 14 November on the King Charles III’s birthday. Each nomination is judged solely on merit and there is no set number of Awards for a particular sector or region.


What does

the group receive?


Winners receive a certificate signed by the King and a glass crystal which can be displayed at the group’s main meeting place. The crystal awards are presented at a special ceremony, by the Lord-Lieutenant representing His Majesty. Representatives from the group may then also be invited to attend a Royal Garden Party.